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University  of  California  •  Berkeley 

University  of  California  Bancroft  Library/Berkeley 

Regional  Oral  History  Office 

George  R.  Stewart 

With  an  Introduction  by 
James  D.  Hart 

An  Interview  Conducted  by 
Suzanne  B.  Riess 

©  1972  by  The  Regents  of  the  University  of  California 

All  uses  of  this  manuscript  are  covered  by  a  legal 
agreement  between  the  Regents  of  the  University  of  California 
and  George  R.  Stewart,  dated  12  May  1972,  and  by  letter  of 
17  April  1973.  The  manuscript  is  thereby  made  available 
for  research  purposes.  All  literary  rights  in  the  manuscript, 
including  the  right  to  publish,  are  reserved  to  George  R.  Stewart 
during  his  lifetime.  No  part  of  the  manuscript  may  be  quoted 
for  publication  without  the  written  permission  of  the  Director 
of  The  Bancroft  Library  of  the  University  of  California  at 

Requests  for  permission  to  quote  for  publication  should 
be  addressed  to  the  Regional  Oral  History  Office,  486  Library, 
and  should  include  identification  of  the  specific  passages  to 
be  quoted,  anticipated  use  of  the  passages,  and  identification 
of  the  user.  The  legal  agreement  with  George  R.  Stewart  requires 
that  he  be  notified  of  the  request  and  allowed  thirty  days  in 
which  to  respond. 


SERIES  PREFACE  by  Willa  Baum  1 

INTERVIEW  HISTORY  by  Suzanne  Riess  11 

AUTHOR »S  PREFACE  by  George  R.  Stewart  Iv 

INTRODUCTION  by  James  D.  Hart  vl 

INTERVIEW  I,  Family  and  Influences,  high  school,  1 

discussion  of  writing  methods  and  some  discoveries 
about  writing. 

INTERVIEW  II,  Study  at  Princeton,  Berkeley,  Columbia;        13 
about  the  satisfactions  of  being  a  professor  at  a  good 
university;  life  in  Berkeley  in  the  193°s;  reviewers, 
fans,  and  agents;  some  themes;  Doctor's  Oral;  "Mapping 

OUt"    a   bOOk;    adversity.  Reprint   from  Names.   March   1961. 

INTERVIEW  III,  Conversation  about  priorities  and  57 

motivation;  the  plays;  abandoned  projects;  Fire.  Earth 
Abides ;  teaching  writing;  more  abandoned  projects. 

INTERVIEW  IV,  Some  other  writers  and  poets:  Hemingway,       83 
H.L.  Davis,  Carl  Sandburg,  Robert  Frost;  "stages"  of 
writing  a  book  (maybe);  the  collected  work  in  retrospect. 

INTERVIEW  V,  Bret  Harte.  Ordeal  by  Hunger.  John  Phoenix.     10? 
East  of  the  Giants.  Doctor^  Oral.  Take  Your  Bible  in 
Your  Hand.  Storm;  some  comments  about  publishers 

INTERVIEW  VI,  Storm.  Fire.  Names  on  the  Land.  Man?          138 
beginnings  and  endings  of  books;  work  for  the  Navy; 
a  story;  marriage  to  Theodosia  Burton;  the  Faculty 
Club;  loyalty  oath  crisis. 

INTERVIEW  VII,  Earth  Abides.  Year  of  the  Oath.  Sheep  Rock.   179 
U.S.  *K).  American  Ways  of  Life.  Years  of  the  City. 
Piokett*s  Charge.  California  Trail.  Good  Lives; 
premonitions,  clubs,  aging. 

INTERVIEW  VIII,  The  Shakespeare  Crisis;  influences          224 
of  California  and  the  West;  the  Bancroft  Library; 
oral  history;  literary  influences;  Not  3o  Rich  as 
You  Think;  presses;  "a  good  life";  the  Book. 

Answers  to  questions  mailed  to  George  Stewart  dealing 

with  his  travels  and  the  idea  of  "going  away  to  think."    250 

INTERVIEW  IX,  with  George  R.  Stewart  and  Charles  L.  Camp.    254 
First  meetings,  almost;  "the  history  of  life";  folklore, 
and  the  Drake  Plate;  hoaxmakers ;  sideways  to  history; 
Herbert  Bolton;  adventures  with  Charlie  and  George; 
off  the  road;  the  house  at  Black  Hook;  later  trips, 
other  companions;  "...write  the  way  George  does";  the 
library,  then;  the  library,  in  transition;  the  Bancroft 
Library;  pleasures  and  pains  of  writing. 

APPENDIX  A   On  Awarding  Honors,  by  George  R.  Stewart        299 

APPENDIX  B   On  Dishonesty,  Seeming  and  Real,  by  304 

George  R.  Stewart 



PARTIAL  BIBLIOGRAPHY  (to  1957)                             312 

- ) .'    :  • 



This  interview  with  Professor  George  R.  Stewart,  Emeritus 
Professor  of  English,  and  author,  is  one  of  the  Diverse 
Memoirs  sponsored  by  the  Friends  of  The  Bancroft  Library. 
The  Friends  established  the  series  of  Diverse  Memoirs  so  that 
the  Regional  Oral  History  Office  could  record  the  recollections 
of  individuals  in  a  variety  of  subject  fields  who  have  made 
outstanding  contributions  to  our  knowledge  of  life  in  California 
and  the  West. 

George  Stewart's  selection  as  a  memoirist  by  resolution 
of  the  Council  of  the  Friends  of  The  Bancroft  Library  on 
April  15,  1971,  reflects  the  Council's  recognition  of  his 
singular  position  in  the  University  world  of  teaching  and 
scholarship,  and.  in  the  world  of  popular  literature.  His 
interest  in  the  ways  of  life  and  the  movement  of  history  in 
America,  particularly  in  revealing  the  roots  of  California, 
have  made  George  Stewart  an  especially  creative  user  of  western 
history  resources.   It  is  these  qualities  that  make  an  interview 
with  George  Stewart  a  logical  choice  for  the  Diverse  Memoirs 
Series,  and  an  illuminating  addition  to  oral  history. 

Willa  Baum,  Department  Head 
Regional  Oral  History  Office 

October  1972 

^86  The  Bancroft  Library 
University  of  California 
Berkeley,  California 



George  Stewart  was  interviewed  for  the  Regional  Oral 
History  Office  in  a  series  of  meetings  in  the  Stewart 
apartment  in  San  Francisco.  The  view  of  San  Francisco,  from 
the  20th  floor,  was  always  worth  a  long  look,  and  came  as 
a  kind  of  grand  climax  to  the  trip  from  Berkeley.  In  fact, 
here  I  thank  George  Stewart,  author,  for  making  such  indelible 
marks  in  my  thinking  about  this  part  of  the  country  that  a 
trip  across  the  Bay  Bridge — not  to  mention  into  the  Sierra — 
becomes  a  fascinating,  distracting  speculation  into  past  and 
future.  He  shares  his  country,  and  the  earth  abides  indeed. 

At  the  time  of  our  planning  for  interviewing  him,  George 
Stewart  was  making  weekly  trips  to  Berkeley  to  work  in  The 
Bancroft  Library  with  Harry  Roberts,  master  bookbinder,  and 
to  have  lunch  at  the  Faculty  Club  and  meet  appointments  around 
the  campus.  That  was  not  the  right  day  for  us  to  interview, 
it  seemed,  so  San  Francisco,  in  the  afternoon,  was  settled 
upon.   (Before  noon  was  for  writing.)  At  one  p.m.  I  would 
arrive,  migrate  to  the  view,  then  attach  the  tape  recorder; 
perhaps  to  counter  my  "edge  of  the  seat"  posture,  George 
Stewart  would  settle  way  back  into  a  cushiony  armchair,  feet 
up,  and  we  would  interview.  When  it  was  over,  Mrs.  Stewart 
usually  Joined  us  for  talk.  Then,  after  an  expert  assessment 
of  the  possibilities  of  entering  the  by  then  steadily-flowing 
traffic  to  the  Bay  Bridge,  I  would  depart. 

The  interviews  took  place  irregularly  in  May,  June,  July, 
September,  and  October  1971,  and  in  February  1972.  The 
transcribing  followed  close  on  the  heels  of  the  interviews, 
largely  because  of  the  transcriber's  enthusiasm  for  the 
subject.  So  when  the  interviews  were  over,  the  editing,  by 
the  interviewer,  took  not  very  much  time.  It  was  completed 
in  the  office  in  February  1972,  and  was  then  back  into  the 
office  again,  with  George  Stewart's  additions,  in  March  1972. 
James  D.  Hart,  The  Bancroft  Library's  Director,  was  the  first 
reader,  after  Mrs.  Stewart,  and  kindly  agreed  to  write  the 
good  friend's  reminiscence  that  is  the  Introduction  to  the 


r   5  •• 


The  volume  includes  an  additional  reminiscing  together 
of  George  Stewart  and  his  very  longtime  friend  and  co-explorer 
in  California  history,  Charles  L.  Camp,  Emeritus  Professor  of 
Paleontology,  and  inveterate  bibliographer.  After  a  pleasant 
lunch  one  day  in  March,  they  talked  about  trips  and  memories 
they  shared.  Recorded  after  the  George  Stewart  interviews 
were  completed,  the  conversation  has  been  left  unlndexed,  and 
it  is  called  Interview  IX. 

As  George  Stewart  says,  there  is  an  autobiography  in 
the  works,  and  that  manuscript  will  one  day  be  available  in 
The  Bancroft  Library,  where  several  cartons  of  working 
manuscripts,  letters,  business  correspondence,  fan  mail, 
reviews,  unpublished  fiction,  dramatic  works,  and  memos  to 
himself  are  already  deposited. 

Suzanne  B.  Riess,  Interviewer 
Regional  Oral  History  Office 

September  1972 
^86  The  Bancroft  Library 
University  of  California 
Berkeley,  California 



For  this  collaboration  on  my  life  I  have  supplied  the 
title.  I  must,  indeed,  make  acknowledgement  to  Rudyard 
Kipling,  whose  autobiography  is  called  Something  of  Myself* 

Whether  as  "a  little"  or  as  "something"  the  title  is  an 
honest  one.  No  autobiography  can  possibly  present  more  than 
a  small  fraction  of  the  individual's  life.  To  attempt  thus 
to  write  quantitatively  would  result  in  proliferation  of  details 
until  the  finished  work  resembled  the  Encyclopedia  Brltannloa. 
To  do  so  qualitatively,  that  is,  by  probing  into  the  individual's 
psyche  and  deeper  mind,  is  also  impossible.  Any  autobiography, 
therefore,  must  consist  of  comparatively  few  and  well-selected 
external  details,  and  perhaps  of  a  few  hesitant  attempts  to 
probe  beneath  the  surface  of  the  mind. 

In  this  particular  series  of  Interviews,  there  have  been, 
moreover,  some  conscious  limitations.  We  laid  down  some 
ground-rules  at  the  beginning. 

I  have  already  written  an  autobiographical  account  taking 
me  to  the  age  of  eighteen,  and  I  expect  to  continue  this 
narrative  until  I  reach  the  age  of  twenty-eight.  Possibly, 
even,  I  shall  continue  It  still  farther.  This  autobiographical 
account  has  not  been  published,  and  may  never  be.   In  that 
latter  case,  however,  I  shall  try  to  see  to  it  that  the  manu 
script  is  deposited  with  my  other  papers  in  the  Bancroft 

To  have  included  here  an  account  of  my  first  twenty-eight 
years  would  have  resulted  in  almost  total  repetition.   Doubtless, 
under  the  influence  of  Suzanne's  skillful  questioning,  I  should 
have  developed  some  ideas  that  I  have  not  developed  on  my  own. 
Here,  however,  we  seemed  to  face  a  situation  which  could  result 
only  in  diminishing  returns  with  labor  scarcely  Justifying  the 

There  is  also  another  autobiograplcal  fragment  (covering 
roughly  my  twenty-fourth  year),  that  is,  my  contribution  to 
the  book  There  Was  Light. 

In  addition,  at  the  beginning  I  told  Suzanne  that  I  was 
not  greatly  Interested  in  developing  the  theme  of  university 
history — not  for  the  lack  of  interest  in  itself,  but  rather 

that  others  more  knowledgeable  in  that  field  have  already 
contributed  to  this  project.  In  addition,  the  small  volume 
that  I  did  on  the  Department  of  English  and  The  Year  of  trhe 
Oath  tell  a  good  deal  about  my  attitudes  and  possible  con 
tributions  to  higher  learning  and  to  the  university. 

We  agreed  that  the  chief  emphasis  should  be  upon  my  books, 
particularly  upon  such  "inside"  items  as  would  not  be  brought 
out  by  reading  of  the  books  themselves  or  from  reviews.  I 
mean — my  methods  of  writing,  attitudes  toward  the  material, 
my  own  appraisals  of  success  or  failure,  and  my  personal 
contacts  resulting  from  the  books. 

Perhaps  unfortunately,  a  large  area  lay  between  the 
calculated  omissions  and  the  emphasized  inclusions.  As  the 
upshot,  I  may  seem  to  be  a  disembodied  spinner  of  words, 
sitting  at  a  typewriter  or  at  a  microphone.  There  is  not 
much  about  my  family  and  friends,  about  my  travels,  hobbies 
and  general  relaxations,  about  my  teaching,  about  any  deeper 
philosophy  that  I  may  possess. 

So  be  it  I  After  all,  the  title  is  A  Little  of  Myself. 

As  for  Suzanne,  by  calling  her  a  collaborator  rather  than 
an  interviewer  I  think  that  I  express  my  appreciation  of  her. 

Let  me  also  express  my  thanks  to  the  Friends  of  the 
Bancroft  Library,  and  particularly  to  their  Council,  who  have 
Invested  their  funds  in  this  project.  I  hope  that  at  some 
time  in  the  future  their  confidence  will  be  repaid. 

George  R.  Stewart 

March  1972 

San  Francisco,  California 



I  have  known  George  Stewart  for  almost  forty  years.  He 
has  been  a  good  friend  and  a  wonderful  colleague  with  whom 
I've  had  long,  happy,  and  diverse  associations.  Over  the 
years  we  have  visited  back  and  forth  in  one  another's  homes, 
for  long  periods  as  often  as  once  a  week,  and  we  have  lectured 
in  one  another's  classes.   We  have  worked  together  on 
University  committees  and  we  have  gone  to  the  mountains  to 
follow  pioneer  trails  and  to  fish  together. 

When  I  first  got  to  know  George  Stewart  I  was  a  graduate 
student  at  Harvard  who  came  to  ask  him  a  question  about  his 
recently  published  biography  of  Bret  Harte.  A  little  later, 
in  1936,  I  became  an  instructor  at  Berkeley  and  he  published 
Ordeal  By  Hunger.  During  the  years  since  then,  I  have  continued 
to  read  everything  George  Stewart  has  published;  certainly 
every  book  and  important  article  or  story.  I've  had  the 
privilege  of  reading  most  of  his  writings  In  manuscript  and 
discussing  them  with  him  before  they  were  printed.  But  even 
after  such  close  association,  this  Regional  Oral  History  Office 
Interview  adds  a  great  deal  to  my  knowledge  and  understanding 
of  George  Stewart  and  his  writings.  What  an  illuminating 
work  it  will  be  for  those  who  have  less  personal  knowledge  of 
him!   It  presents  invaluable  information  from  an  author  talking 
fully  and  freely  about  his  writing.  Moreover,  this  is  an 
author  who  is  not  only  a  novelist,  historian  and  biographer 
but  a  critic  too.  Here  is  a  man  professionally  devoted  to 
literary  studies  displaying  his  highly  trained  powers  and 
perceptions  to  analyze  his  own  work. 


Because  George  Stewart  is  remarkably  thoughtful,  clear 
headed,  honest  and  capable  of  self -discernment  he  creates  a 
very  important  document  here,  unlike  and  beyond  the  more 
conventional  biographical  recollections  that  are  the  stuff 
of  most  of  the  ROHO  interviews.  It  is  typical  of  him  that 
George  Stewart  should  make  his  ROHO  interview  different  from 
others.  He  is  a  man  possessed  of  a  remarkably  original  mind; 
everything  he  does  is  approached  from  his  own  special  angle 
of  vision.  The  very  diversity  of  topics  and  forms  represented 
in  his  books  Is  indicative  of  that.   Indeed,  even  within  his 
own  field  of  scholarship  on  English  literature,  he  has  been 
quite  astonishing  in  publishing  on  Malory  and  Bret  Harte,  on 
Faulkner  and  William  Henry  Thomas,  on  Melville  and  Stevenson, 
on  Chaucer  and  George  H.  Derby.  I  don't  suppose  any  other 




scholarly  writer  on  Malory  or  Chaucer  has  even  heard  of  Derby 
or  Thomes,  except  perhaps  through  Stewart's  work.  Yet  George 
Stewart's  variety  of  Interests  and  range  of  knowledge  is 
matched  by  the  equally  great  diversity  of  his  points-of-view 
toward  his  materials  and  the  different  techniques  he  has  used. 
He  is  always  his  own  man,  creating  his  own  kind  of  work, 
whether  in  that  unusual  novel  Storm  or  in  his  poetic  and 
fiotive  techniques  in  the  handling  of  history  in  Ordeal  By 

Somewhere  in  these  interviews  George  Stewart  mentions 
humorously  that  he  makes  his  neuroses  work  for  him.  Well, 
neuroses  or  not,  he  is  always  very  secure  as  he  moves  from 
one  sort  of  thing  to  another,  from  one  book  to  another,  from 
one  genre  to  another,  from  one  project  to  another,  seemingly 
without  effort.  Of  course  there's  a  lot  of  effort — of  research 
and  thought,  for  example — but  George  Stewart  is  obviously  so 
certain  of  what  he  is  doing  that  he  is  able  to  move  in  his 
own  way  seemingly  without  problems  and  thus  able  to  present 
time  and  again  a  new  point  of  view  or  open  up  a  new  subject, 
book  after  book.  Because  we  learn  about  how  this  occurs  and 
what  he  thinks  of  what  he  has  done,  this  text  is  another 
important  contribution  by  George  Stewart.  I  am  delighted  to 
have  been  the  first  to  read  still  another  of  his  works,  one 
that  I  am  sure  will  also  be  appreciated  in  many  ways  by  other 
readers  yet  to  come. 

James  D.  Hart 
Professor  of  English 
Director,  The  Bancroft  Library 

May  1972 

The  Bancroft  Library 
University  of  California 
Berkeley,  California 

INTERVIEW  I,  Family  and  influences,  high  school; 
discussion  of  writing  methods,  and  some  discoveries 
about  writing.   (Recorded  May  26,  1971) 

Riess:    Reading  through  your  Untitled  Autobiography*  made  me 
want  to  know  how  much  study  of  psychology  you  had 

Stewart:  Very  little  formal  study,  and  not  very  much  informal 
study.  My  wife  has  taken  care  of  that  department. 
She  is  a  psychiatric  social  worker.  But  I  have  never 
got  into  it  very  much,  no. 

Riess:    Was  interviewing  people  much  a  part  of  your  writing? 

Stewart:  Yes,  if  you  could  call  it  interviewing — not  for  their 
own  personalities,  but  for  what  they  knew  about  some 
subject.   I  did  a  lot  of  that  for  Storm  and  Fire  and 
Earth  Abides,  on  other  books  too.  But  it  was  mostly 
a  matter  of  going  to  a  person  and  saying,  "What  do  you 
know  about  this  particular  thing?" 

Riess:    And  not,  "How  did  you  feel  about  this  or  that?" 
Stewart:  No. 

Riess:    You  are  so  understanding  of  yourself  and  your  family, 
and  yet  you  seem  to  want  to  get  on  to  talking  about 
places  and  away  from  people  pretty  quickly. 

Stewart:   Oh,  I  suppose  my  childhood,  as  I've  said,  was  partly 

unhappy,  and  we  all  want  to  shy  away  from  those  things. 

Riess:    You  let  the  characters  in  your  books  have  emotions. 

*Refer  to  Author's  Preface. 

Stewart:  There  are  certain  things  I  shied  away  from,  though,  I 
think,  certain  kinds  of  emotional  involvements.   I 
think  it's  all  right.  I  don't  think  everybody  ought 
to  write  about  the  same  thing.  So,  I  don't  mind  that. 

Of  course  the  thing  I  always  had  to  fight — not 
fight,  exactly — but  people  were  always  telling  me  I 
ought  to  put  more  about  people  in  my  books  and  I  think 
that  was  very  bad  advice.  After  all,  every  writing  is 
a  kind  of  specialty,  no  writer  writes  about  everything. 
I  was  writing  about  certain  types  of  things,  and  if 
they  didn't  call  for  people  in  depth  or  in  large 
number  I  think  that  was  Just  something  that  I  had  to 
my  advantage,  really. 

Riess:    What  I  was  commenting  on  was  that  you  had  a  lot  of 

insight,  yet  in  the  Autobiography  you  were  reluctant 
to  indulge  it. 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  think  so,  I  think  that's  quite  common,  especially 
with  people  with  my  background;  that  Presbyterian- 
Scottish  background  is  strongly  disciplined,  somewhat 
repressed,  and  I  think  that's  what  you  are  seeing. 

Biess:    Do  you  remember  mentioning  showing  off? 

Stewart:  I  don't  like  to  get  into  analysis  that  deep,  and 

you're  never  very  good  at  analysing  yourself,  anyway. 
The  showing  off,  I  suppose,  might  be  an  overcompensation 
for  being  repressed;  that  would  be  a  possibility. 

You've  got  a  real  advantage  there,  having  the 
Aut obi  ography . 

Riess:    Does  it  seem  nasty?  Picking  out  phrases  and  throwing 
them  back  at  you? 

Stewart:  No,  I  think  it's  fine,  I'm  interested  to  see  what  you 
do  pick  out. 

Riess:    Maybe  it  sounds  like  I'm  trying  to  find  loopholes. 
Stewart:  No,  I  think  it's  that  you're  trying  to  fill  gaps. 

Riess:    As  I  read  on  I  felt  that  I  recognized  a  theme  in  the 
statement,  "Give  me  a  straightforward  task  and  I  can 
buckle  down  and  learn,  even  with  no  special  facility." 
It  would  seen  that  you  have  set  yourself  not  Just 
straightforward,  but  monumental,  tasks,  the  dictionary 
for  instance. 

.'"  N  •  •-.•: 

Stewart : 


Stewart : 

Stewart:  Well,  In  that  case  It  looks  like  a  straightforward 
task  when  you  get  through  with  It,  and.  sometimes  It 
Is  a  straightforward  task.  Take  a  book  like  Names  on 
the  Land,  for  Instance,  an  Incredibly  hard  book  to 
conceive,  because  It  didn't  exist,  Incredibly  hard  to 
organize.  Well,  actually,  writing  a  place-names 
dictionary  Is  a  straightforward  Job,  but  calls  for 
tremendous  efficiency. 

Would  you  say  that  even  as  a  child  you  liked  the 
challenge  of  a  difficult  task? 

Yes,  I  suppose  so,  although  I  was  not  a  particularly 
early  bloomer. 

Did  you  have  goals,  as  a  child? 

No,  I  had  almost  no  goals  at  all.   I  had  a  terrific 
struggle  when  I  had  to  get  some.   I  don't  know  as  it 
was  worse  than  with  other  people,  but  I  certainly  did 
not  have  a  sense  of  goal,  that  I  was  going  to  be  a 
doctor,  or  a  lawyer,  or  something  like  that. 

Bless:    Did  your  brother  Andrew  have  ambitions? 

Stewart:  Yes,  he  did,  he  was  going  to  be  a  millionaire.  He 
never  made  it,  but  he  might  have,  if  he  hadn't  died 
rather  young.  His  wife  may  be  a  millionaire  right 
now,  with  what  he  was  worth. 

He  was  always  trying  to  get  me  to  go  along  with 
his  plans.   I  could  never  go  for  it,  at  all.  His 
idea  was  that  I  was  going  to  be  a  mining  engineer. 
He  wanted  to  develop  mineral  properties,  and  I  was 
supposed  to  do  the  work,  but  I  didn't  go  along  with 
that  idea. 

Riess:    How  about  your  parents'  goals  for  you? 

Stewart:  They  were  very  tactful  about  that.  I  think  they 

always  wanted  me  to  be  a  minister,  but  I  don't  think 
their  wanting  was  a  very  important  influence.   I 
think  they  were  happy  with  what  I  did. 

Riess:    There  was  always  the  assumption  that  you  would  go  to 

Stewart:   Oh,  always.  Again,  to  get  into  the  environment,  that 
group  is  and  was  very  strongly  for  a  college  education, 

Stewart:  Just  what  it  was  going  to  do  for  me,  that  wasn't  clear. 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

I  think  the  influence  of  my  brother  was  very 
strong.  I  brought  that  out  pretty  well  In  the  Auto 
biography.  And  I  think  it  led  to  a  tremendous  amount 
of  development,  for  the  good  or  for  the  bad,  and  that 
continued  for  a  long  time  until  it  gradually  worked 
out.  It  continued  even  until  the  time  I  was  married. 
My  wife  knew  my  brother,  and  she  couldn't  stand  him. 
He  has  been  dead  about  twenty  years  or  so. 

How  did  he  do  at  school? 

He  was  very  bright,  and  had  very  good  grades,  although 
he  was  never  Interested  in  the  studies  as  I  was.  He 
was  much  more  athletic  than  I  was.  He  was  a  very 
active  fellow,  who  didn't  make  a  tremendous  success 
out  of  his  life  by  his  own  standards,  but  he  probably 
would  have  if  he  hadn't  died  so  young. 

(I  don't  know  why  I  should  be  talking  about  him.) 
He  had  a  way  of  looking  down  on  all  technical  skills, 
he  wanted  to  be  where  the  money  was,  where  he  could 
get  it  as  it  went  by.  Well,  it  was  an  age  when  John 
D.  Rockefeller  and  J.  P.  Morgan  were  the  heroes. 

After  he  graduated  from  college,  he  and  a  friend 
who  had  a  lot  of  money — Andy  was  always  tied  up  with 
people  with  a  lot  of  money — made  a  trip  to  South 
America,  to  Argentina,  which  was  a  tremendous  trip  in 
those  days.  They  wanted  to  import  Chinese  labor,  but 
the  Argentines  wanted  nothing  to  do  with  that. 

He  was  always  full  of  big  schemes,  like  that, 


Oh,  I  think  the  idea  that  my  father  lost  most  of  his 
money  was  important.  That  makes  a  difference  in  a 
family;  you  become  much  more  conscious  of  money,  much 
more  than  if  you  never  had  any  money. 

Did  Andrew  read  much? 

Yes,  he  did,  though  his  reading  was  somewhat 
differently  focused  than  mine.  We  both  read  the  Henty 
books,  but  Andrew  also  read  Alger,  you  know,  the  Alger 
books,  about  how  a  boy  makes  money. 


Stewart : 

Stewart : 


Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Do  you  think  that  boys  reading  those  books  of  heroes 
would  be  making  the  comparisons  with  their  own 
dullish  lives.   I  mean,  do  you  think  that  Alger  for 
a  boy  Is  Inspirational,  or  does  It  make  him  think, 
"Wow,  my  life  Is  nothing." 

No,  I  don't  think  a  child  has  that  reaction  you're 
speaking  of,  that's  much  more  the  adult. 

I  guess  It's  like  reading 
expect  to  come  back. 

"escape"  literature. 


Much  escape  literature  Is  full  of  such  horrors  that 
you  make  a  double  escape  when  you  come  back,  that  Is, 
you  escape  from  the  storybook  into  your  dull  but  safe 

When  the  pages  of  the  Autobiography  end  you  are  on  a 
camping  trip,  at  the  end  of  your  residence  in  Azusa. 
Was  that  your  first  time  out  in  rugged  country? 

Yes,  it  was,  at  least  overnight.  I  had  been  out  other 
times,  like  the  trip  when  I  killed  the  rattlesnake. 
People  didn't  do  it  as  much  in  those  days  as  they  do 

When  such  things  happened  to  you  did  you  have  a  wish 
to  write  it  down?  Put  it  in  a  diary? 

No,  not  at  all.   I  have  practically  nothing  in  the  way 
of  diaries  except  day  by  day  notes  when  I  was  on  trips, 
records  of  my  European  trips,  and  more  recent  trips. 
I  never  have  enjoyed  writing  down  day-to-day  records. 
But  I  have  a  good  memory,  so  that  I  can  store  up  some 
thing  to  write  about. 

So  there  wasn't  much  writing  as  a  child. 

Not  particularly,  no.  Of  course  I,  like  every 
American,  dreamed  of  writing  a  great  American  novel. 
I  had  that  to  some  extent,  but  I  didn't  try  very  hard. 

Often  people  have  that  wish  to  write  a  book  after 
going  through  the  experience  of  war. 

Yes,  although  I  never  had  the  real  experience  of  war. 
I  was  in  the  Army  for  two  years,  but  I  didn't  get  out 
of  this  country. 

tO  £-3 

mess:    Oh,  I  had  thought  that  your  disability,  that  you 
relate  In  There  Was  Light,  was  gassing.* 

Stewart:  No,  pneumonia. 

Bless:    I  recall  you  brought  it  up  In  that  book,  pointing  out 
how  surprising  It  was  that  with  that  In  the  background 
you  lasted  so  long. 

Stewart:  Well,  it  was  pretty  unbelievable.   I  don't  deny  it. 

In  fact,  my  whole  medical  history  is  kind  of  a  cliff- 
hanger.  Every  time  I've  come  to  the  end  of  my  tether, 
along  comes  penicillin  or  something  and  pulls  me  out 
of  it.   [laughing] 

About  1935»  for  instance,  I  was  in  a  bad  way, 
and  Just  about  that  time  the  sulfa  drugs  came  in  and 
pulled  me  out  of  that.  And  I  didn't  have  to  have 
the  operation  on  my  lungs  until  after  they  perfected 
the  technique.   I  had  to  have  a  lobe  of  my  lung  cut, 
all  from  this  pneumonia.  And  if  it  had  had  to  be 
done  ten  years  earlier,  they  probably  wouldn't  have 
been  able  to  take  it  out. 

I've  never  been  a  robust  person,  but  I  have  a 
tough  constitution  and  I  can  recover  well.   I'm  not 
one  of  these  people  who've  never  been  sick. 

Riess:    Now,  in  the  Autobiography,  you  had  gotten  into  high 

Stewart:  Yes,  in  the  next  chapter  I  will  bring  out  about  my 

high  school  education  in  general,  and.  what  I  got  out 
of  it,  and  what  kind  of  institutions  we  had  in  those 

I'm  working  on  that  chapter  in  my  autobiography. 
Again,  like  my  first  year  at  Berkeley,  my  last  year 
in  high  school  was  a  very  remarkable  year.  That's 
interesting  to  work  on.  On  the  other  hand,  my  college 
years  I  think  are  much  less  important.  My  pattern 
worked  out  that  It  wasn't  the  important  period  in 
my  life. 

Riess:    Is  it  when  you  get  to  writing  these  things  down  that 
the  memories  come  back  and  you  realize  it  was 
remarkable,  or  did  you  always  feel  that  it  was? 

*See  footnote,  p.  20. 

Stewart:   I  realize  it  a  little  more  sharply  when  I  think  back. 
I  have  some  documents  on  this.   I  have  the  little 
high  school  magazine  and  the  annual  that  came  out. 
Those  focus  my  mind.  It  was  a  year  in  which  I  had 
a  great  deal  of  luck.  In  some  ways  it  was  bad  for 
me i  because  it  came  a  little  too  easily  almost.  I 
never  had  any  luck  in  college,  really,  I  should  say. 
Maybe  I  will  think  differently  when  I  get  to  looking 
at  it  again.  Of  course,  adversity's  good  for  a  man 

It's  interesting  having  these  two  books,  the 
magazine  and  the  annual.   My  father  got  them  bound  up, 
you  see,  because  I  was  mentioned  in  them.  Being  a 
proud  father,  he  had  these  bound;  so  they're  all  very 
well  preserved.  There  are  various  references  to  me, 
which  are  interesting.  I  expanded  from  that.  It  was 
interesting  looking  through  the  pictures  of  the  class. 
Many  people  look  familiar  still.  People  I  hadn't 
thought  of  for  fifty  years,  you  know.   "There's  some 
one — oh  yesf"  Sometimes  I  even  know  his  name.  Just 
one  Negro  in  that  class,  and  one  Japanese,  in  Pasadena 
in  1913. 

Riess:    How  did  they  fit  in? 

Stewart:  Oh,  all  right,  I  guess.  I  didn't  know  either  of  them 
particularly.   I  think  the  girl,  the  colored  girl, 
was  very  undistinguished  as  far  as  I  know.  I  don't 
know  what  the  Japanese  was  like.  I  think  he  was  quite 
bright,  as  they  generally  are.  He  figures  in  the 
book  occasionally.  He  wrote  a  short  story  which  was 
published  in  it. 

Riess:    What  were  the  predictions  for  you  in  high  school? 

Stewart:  Well,  that  was  very  amusing,  really.  That  was  part 
of  the  luck.   I  made  my  whole  reputation  In  that 
class  by  writing  a  topical  poem.  It  was  no  good  as 
a  poem.   It  wasn't  supposed  to  be,  but  it  fit  into 
the  period  of  the  times  just  right  apparently,  and 
in  an  assembly  one  of  the  teachers  told  the  presiding 
officer  I  had  written  this  and  I  ought  to  read  it  to 
the  assembly.  So  I  read  it  to  the  whole  assembly, 
to  tremendous  applause!   [laughing]  I  was  a  marked 
man  forever  after  in  that  school.  That  was  the  year 
I  graduated.  It  was  quite  a  big  high  school,  about 


Stewart:   1500  students  I  think,  even  in  those  days, 
a  four  year  high  school,  of  course,  then. 

It  was 


[continuing  an  interrupted  conversation  about  book 
binding  and  other  interests] 

Stewart : 


Stewart : 


Stewart : 

I  have  this  great  love  of  working  with  my  hands.  Ifve 
showed  you  the  bookbinding.  And  I've  done  some  wood 
working;  the  bookcase  in  the  other  room — I  made  that 
years  ago. 

It's  hard  to  imagine  you  finding  the  time,  particularly 
when  you  were  publishing  almost  a  book  a  year  for  a 
while.   In  fact,  I  don't  know  how  you  did  write  as 
much  as  you  did  in  those  years  when  you  were  teaching 

I  don't  know  either.  I  have  one  theory,  though. 
I  was  trying  to  do  [telephone  interruption]... 


(I  can't  talk  over  the  telephone  with  ease,  and 
I  always  blame  it  on  President  MoKinley,  as  I  told 
in  the  Autobiography — the  first  news  we  ever  received 
over  the  telephone  was  that  McKinley  was  shot.) 

Anyway,  what  I  was  saying  was  that  many  writers 
agonize  in  the  writing  of  a  book,  but  I  always  enjoyed 
the  process  partly  I  guess  because  there  was  always 
the  sense  of  achievement. 

You  did  have  it  organized  with  half  a  year  teaching, 
half  a  year  writing? 

I  did  for  a  while,  yes,  but  actually  I  think  I  did 
my  best  writing,  and  my  most  writing,  before  that 
time.  I  didn't  start  that  half time  arrangement  until 
about  1950. 



Hiess:    So  how  did  a  day  go,  back  in  those  days  when  you 
were  really  writing  so  much? 

Stewart:   I  tried  to  write  in  the  morning,  and  then,  as  I  say, 
when  I  got  tired  of  writing  I  could  go  down  to  the 
University  and  teach. 

Riess:    And  you  had  to  do  a  lot  of  reading  and  research  to  do 
your  writing. 

Stewart:  I  did  that  largely  in  the  evenings. 

And  there  again  I  went  and  picked  out  what  I 
needed,  and  not  too  much,  although  that's  dangerous, 
and  not  to  be  recommended.  You  may  run  short.   It's 
dangerous  to  try  to  get  Just  enough  and  not  too  much, 
because  you  may  miss  some  things  you  should  get.  Of 
course  in  a  novel  it  doesn't  really  matter — the 
decision  to  not  write  more  about  something  than  you 
can  avoid — whereas  in  a  non-fiction  work  you  can  be 
criticized  for  rejecting  some  matter  which  should  have 
been  treated. 

Riess:    But  I  do  think  your  novels  lend  themselves  to  questions 
of  What  About  This  and  What  Happened  Then? 

Stewart:  Yes,  but  those  are  not  really  legitimate  questions. 
A  novel  may  be  a  good  novel,  or  it  may  be  an 
unsatisfactory  novel  for  a  particular  reader,  Just  as 
some  people  criticize  my  books  because  they  felt  they 
didn't  get  enough  about  people,  and  that's  legitimate 
criticism  too,  from  their  point  of  view,  but  it  really 
isn't  from  the  author's  point  of  view. 

All  of  my  novels  had  scenes  that  were  written 
and  then  dropped  out,  and  in  a  sense  they  still  exist, 
and  the  writer  may  have  all  kinds  of  ideas  about  his 
characters,  and  about  incidents,  but  he  can't  get  to 
them  all.  What  I'm  saying  is  that  the  measure  of  a 
work  of  art  consists  in  what  is,  and  what  is  not  there 
is  not  really  a  legitimate  question.  Sometimes  you'll 
say  a  novel  doesn't  have  enough  depth  or  background, 
or  detail,  but  that  again  is  from  the  standpoint  of 
the  existing  book. 

In  Fire,  for  instance,  I  drew  that  whole  map, 
with  great  detail — the  Bancroft  Library  has  it,  I 
believe.  And  a  lot  of  the  places  on  that  map  I  never 
mentioned  in  the  book.  They  were  there  in  case  I 

.;..  1 



Stewart:  needed  them. 

HI ess:    The  copy  of  Fire  that  I  read  didn't  have  the  map  in 
it  anymore,  since  the  cover  pages  were  redone. 
Actually,  the  contour  of  the  fire  was  easily  visualized 
because  of  your  description. 

Stewart:  Well,  there's  a  question  about  maps  in  books,  Just 

like  Illustrations,  whether  they  are  a  good  thing  or 
not  in  novels. 

Hiess:    They  imply  that  you  will  need  them. 

Stewart:  And  then  the  book  is  likely  to  be  published  without 
them  in  paperback  or  something  like  that.  I  always 
wrote  them  with  the  idea  that  maps  and  pictures  were 
not  really  necessary. 

Riess:    Rereading  Fire,  I  was  really  struck  by  the  suspense 
and  terror  that  you  communicated  about  the  impending 
disaster.  Do  you  end  each  chapter  with  a  cliffhanger? 

Stewart:  To  some  extent,  yes.  My  theory  of  the  chapter  and 
paragraph  is  that  they  provide  points  of  emphasis, 
because  of  the  white  space.   I've  had  a  lot  of  fun 
with  that,  as  in  Fire  where  the  chapter  ends  (in  the 
middle  of  a  sentence)  at  midnight  of  one  day,  and 
begins  immediately,  the  next  day. 

Fire  and  Storm  were  written  with  such  terribly 
complicated  topographical  background  that  I  had  to 
keep  a  clear  chronology  to  work  with,  to  get  one 
thing  after  another.  The  geography  skips  all  over 
the  place,  particularly  in  Storm. 

Riess:    Picking  up  all  the  tag  ends  of  the  action,  does  that 
happen  easily? 

Stewart:   That's  quite  difficult,  and  I  made  out  an  elaborate 
diagram,  particularly  in  Storm.  The  time-span  was 
twelve  days,  yet  I  didn't  know  at  first  how  long  it 
would  be.   It  took  me  a  long  time  before  I  could  work 
out  my  basic  background,  which  was  the  storm  itself, 
in  the  twelve  days,  and  then  I  had  to  work  backwards. 
It  was  really  quite  complicated. 

Riess:  HOW  much  real  stuff  did  you  have  at  hand,  like  the 
log  of  a  weather  bureau,  or  something  over  a  given 
period  of  time? 


Stewart:  None.  I  had  all  the  cooperation  I  needed  from  the 
weather  bureau,  but  I  didn't  have  a  log.  My  storm 
was  a  fictional  storm,  and  the  fire  a  fictional  fire. 

Fire  was  in  only  eleven  days.   It  started  out  to 
be  twelve  days,  like  Storm, — they  were  companion  pieces- 
but  I  didn't  really  need  twelve  days,  and  I  didn't 
want  to  Just  put  another  day  in  to  make  it  run  parallel 
to  Storm. 

Riess:  Do  you  like  the  words  "documentary  novel,"  used  to 
describe  your  writings? 

Stewart:  Not  particularly.  I  guess  it  implies  that  you  have 
worked  from  non-fictional  materials,  and  actually  I 
always  kept  the  distinction  there,  and  made  it  a 
fictional  fire.  Lots  of  people  confuse  that  distinc 
tion.  Ordeal  by  Hunger  is  non-fiction  and  it's  hard 
to  take  that  so  many  people  think  that  Is  a  novel. 

That  was  very  valuable  training  for  writing, 
though,  because  that's  a  very  complicated  book,  many 
sides  to  the  account.  It  uses  a  technique  that  most 
historians  have  not  known  how  to  use — I  don't  know 
how  I  learned  it — a  kind  of  novelistic  technique. 

Riess:    The  technique  of  weaving. 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  think  that's  a  good  term  for  it. 

Riess:    In  Ordeal  by  Hunger  did  you  begin  your  interest  in 

pursuing  trails,  in  writing  about  people's  wanderings. 

Stewart:  Well,  I  sometimes  wonder  how  I  got  so  interested  in 
writing  about  trails,  in  people  getting  from  one 
place  to  another. 

Riess:    I  can  see  how  your  books  would  lead  off  into  the 

Stewart:  Well,  I  don't  think  most  people  do  feel  that.   I 

think  they  feel  more  the  variety.  And  to  a  certain 
extent  I  do  too.  And  I  think  that's  far  more 
interesting,  as  a  writer,  that  there  is  no  thread  of 

Riess:    The  thread  of  development  I  see  is  the  environmental 


Stewart:  Well,  I  do  feel  for  myself  that  I  have  chosen  subjects 
for  the  variety.   It  was  hard  for  me,  for  Instance, 
to  do  Fire,  because  it  was  a  kind  of  repetition.  But 
in  writing  Storm  I  discovered  the  fact  that  you  can 
write  about  the  infinite  divisibility  of  time—the 
wire  falls,  and  then  the  wire  falls  further  T—  and  that 
was  very — I  hate  to  use  the  word  exciting,  but  that 
was  very  exciting. 

Hiess:    I  wonder  how  you  feel  about  the  word  "tricks,"  which 
you  sometimes  use  in  talking  about  your  work. 

Stewart:  I  suppose  it's  like  what  people  mean  when  they  use 

the  phrase  tour  de  force,  referring  to  my  work,  which 
I  don't  appreciate.  Oftentimes  what  they  mean  is 
that  I  have  used  an  original  form,  and  "I  shouldn't 
like  this,  but  I  do." 

Riess:    Your  form  is  original.  Did  you  ever  start  out  to 
write  Just  the  great  American  novel? 

Stewart:  Well,  East  of  the  Giants  was  that,  I  guess,  a  fairly 
conventional  sort  of  novel.  After  Ordeal  by  Hunger 
I  knew  I  could  write,  but  the  trick  was  to  supply  the 
motive  power.   The  great  difference  between  fiction 
and  non-fiction  is  that  you  have  to  supply  your  own 
motive  power.   It's  very  difficult,  and  a  lot  of 
people  think  fiction  is  easier  to  write  than  non- 
fiction,  but  they  are  absolutely  wrong.  Non-fiction 
is  easier  to  write;  it's  difficult  enough  to  write 
well,  but  it's  easier. 

In  East  of  the  Giants  I  took  the  Western  cliche, 
which  is  the  simple  situation  of  the  blonde  American 
man  who  comes  west  and  falls  in  love  with  the  dark- 
haired  Spanish  beauty,  and  I  reversed  that.  I  had  a 
blonde  heroine,  a  blonde  American  girl  who  came  out 
and  married  a  dark  man. 


INTERVIEW  II,  Study  at  Princeton,  Berkeley, 
Columbia;  about  the  satisfactions  of  being  a 
professor  at  a  good  university;  life  in  Berkeley 
in  the  1930s;  reviewers,  fans,  and  agents;  some 
themes;  JDoctor's  Oral;  "mapping  out"  a  book; 
adversity!   (lie corded  June  16,  1971) 

Stewart : 


Stewart  : 

Stewart : 

I'm  a  great  pencil  sharpener.  My  wife  never  sharpens 
pencils,  and  then  I  sharpen  hers.  Can't  stand  a  dull 
pencil,  takes  all  the  cut  out  of  my  mind,  with  a  dull 
pencil.  A  sharpened  pencil  is  something  you  can  make 
a  mark  with. 

How  do  you  work?  At  a  desk  with  a  pile  of  new  white 
paper  and  a  lot  of  pencils? 

Well,  I  never  do  that.  I  never  sit  at  a  desk  and 
write  really.  I  always  sit  in  a  chair  like  this,  and 
use  a  board,  and  write  with  a  pencil.  But  of  course 
I've  done  most  of  my  work  in  the  last  twenty  years 

with  dictation. 


But  you  get  into  a  particular  place  that's  your 
working  place? 

Oh — well,  I  can  be  pretty  adaptable  on  that,  but  I 
usually  have  a  regular  place,  yes. 

Now,  what  were  you  planning  to  do,  when  you  were  at 

I  went  to  college,  I  guess  like  most  people,  partic 
ularly  in  those  days,  without  any  very  definite  idea 
of  what  I  wanted  to  do.  There  was  this  old  idea  of 
course,  if  you  had  a  good  old  classical  education, 
that  was  good  for  you,  which  I  think  was  fairly  all 
right.   It  probably  was.  I  majored  in  English, 
actually,  which  is  the  line  I  followed,  but  I  didn't 

Stewart : 




do  it  with  any  great  conviction.  I  enjoyed  that 
kind  of  work.   I  had  what  was  called  an  honors 
course  in  English.  They  had  an  experiment  then.  We 
had  a  group  of  five  students  who  in  the  last  two 
years  kept  together  all  the  time.  That  was,  I  think, 
a  very  good  arrangement.  We  had  the  same  professor 
all  the  time — T.  M.  Parrott. 

I  can't  remember  now  who  all  those  people  were. 

I  was  trying  to  think  the  other  day. 
those  things  after  a  while. 

In  what  sense  did  you  work  together? 

You  do  forget 

We  met  in  the  evening,  I  think  about  every  two  weeks. 
Somebody  would  read  a  paper  on  an  assigned  topic, 
and  then  we'd  discuss  that,  Just  like  a  seminar  class. 
It  was  in  the  Victorian  period.  It  was  a  very  enjoy 
able  piece  of  work.  I  remember  it  with  a  lot  of 
pleasure,  and  I  knew  the  professor  very  well,  of 

Then  I  had  other  courses, 
instead  of  the  usual  five. 

We  took  four  courses 

Harvard  around  that  time  was  going  through  changes  in 
their  educational  system.  What  were  things  like  at 

It  was  not  so  very  different  from  what  the  system  is 
now  in  a  great  many  places,  or  was  until  recently. 
That  is,  you  had  a  core,  a  required  core  of  material, 
and  you  had  to  elect  a  department  for  your  upper 
division  work.  Actually,  what  I  did  at  Princeton  was 
very  much  the  same  system  as  what  they  were  doing  at 
California  in  my  day  when  I  was  there  teaching.   I 
think  it's  changed  some  now  under  recent  student 

The  work  in  the  freshman  and  sophomore  years  was 
pretty  much  required,  and  then  after  that  you  elected 
a  department  and  had  some  requirements  in  that,  and 
some  elect ives.   I  got  a  good  deal  out  of  my  years  at 
Princeton.   I  think  I  would  have  got  that  out  of 
other  colleges  too.  I  of  course  got  a  good  professional 
background  in  English  work.  That  was  very  good  there, 
and  I  was  able  to  carry  that  on  into  graduate  work 
very  easily. 


Rless:    Were  you  doing  much  writing? 

Stewart:  A  good  deal.  You  see,  classes  were  fairly  small 

there.  The  preceptorial  system  was  in  effect  then 
and  you  had  a  small  group  which  met  as  well  as  a 
lecture  system.  That  was  the  great  change  that 
Woodrow  Wilson  put  in  at  Princeton,  the  preceptorial 
system.  That  was  pretty  much  still  intact  at  the 
time  I  went  there. 

[additional  material  dictated  15  March  1972] 

In  college  I  did  very  little  writing  except  that 
which  came  along  in  connection  with  my  courses,  in 
what  might  be  called  an  undergraduate  scholarly  tone. 
I  did  an  honors  thesis  at  the  end  of  the  course  which 
was  a  study  of  the  medieval  element  in  Victorian 
literature,  and  it  ran  to  ^0,000  words.  I  don't  know 
what  became  of  it.  Probably  it  got  thrown  out  some 
where  when  I  went  into  the  Army  Just  at  the  end  of  my 
college  course.   I  wrote  some  poetry,  and  published 
two  little  poems  in  the  college  literary  magazine, 
but  I  never  was  known  around  the  campus  as  an  author. 
I  experimented  with  writing  a  short  story  or  so  as  I 
went  along.  Nothing  of  importance. 

I  took  only  one  course  in  writing,  and,  as  a 
matter  of  fact,  almost  nothing  in  that  way  was  offered 
at  Princeton  at  that  time.  Just  in  my  senior  year 
they  established  a  course  in  what  would  now  be  called 
Creative  Writing,  and  I  took  the  section  on  verse- 
writing  with  Professor  Arthur  Kennedy,  who  was  himself 
a  poet  of  some  standing. 

There  was  only  one  other  student  in  the  course, 
and  we  went  out  to  Professor  Kennedy's  house  one 
evening  a  week  to  meet  there  with  him,  as  was  the 
common  custom  with  the  preceptors  of  that  time,  to 
hold  the  classes  at  their  houses.   (A  very  good  system 
with  small  classes,  such  as  we  had  then.) 

The  course  was  well  "structured"  as  they  would 
say  these  days.  We  had  regular  assignments  for 
experiments  in  trying  different  kinds  of  verse.  Once 
there  would  be  an  assignment  in  blank  verse,  and  once 
in  disyllabics,  and  so  forth.  We  had  very  pleasant 
meetings,  and  I  enjoyed  the  course  very  much.  It  was 
not  a  line  that  I  followed  later  on,  and  I  would 



Stewart : 




probably  have  done  better  to  have  taken  the  course 
In  the  short  story,   [end  dictated  material] 

Then  I  got  a  great  deal  out  of  the  electives 
that  I  took,  which  I  selected  carefully.  I've  always 
thought  of  education — even  then  I  thought  of  It — as 
opening  up  new  fields  to  the  mind.   I  had,  for 
instance,  a  course  in  geology  and  a  course  in  biology, 
as  they  called  it,  a  very  broad  course  in  biology. 
I  had  a  course  in  Romanesque  and  Gothic  architecture, 
and  two  or  three  others,  which  opened  up  a  great  deal 
to  me.   I've  always  enjoyed  new  fields  being  opened 
up.  Remember  in  my  Autobiography,  in  the  first 
chapter,  about  looking  through  the  window?  That  was 
in  a  sense  what  I  mean. 

So  you  didn't  settle  for  a  "gentleman's  C"  when  you 
went  to  Princeton? 

Oh,  no.  I  got  a  few  bad  grades,  because  I  did  elect 
things  around  that  way.  Not  really  bad,  but  not  as 
good  as  I  might.  But  I  had  a  very  high  average  as 
far  as  grades  were  concerned.   I  had  a  Junior  year 
Phi  Beta  Kappa,  which  was  pretty  hard  to  get.   I 
graduated  third  in  the  class.   If  I  hadn't  wandered 
around  taking  some  of  those  outside  courses,  I  would 
have  been  higher, 

Do  you  remember  any  particularly  good  advisors, 
guidance  that  you  got  during  those  years? 


Stewart:  The  professor  with  whom  we  worked  in  this  small  class 
was  Professor  Parrot t,  who  was  a  good  man.   I  got  a 
lot  out  of  him.   Then  J.  Duncan  Spaeth  was  a  great 
character  on  the  faculty.  He  coached  the  crew  besides 
being  professor  of  English,  and  I  knew  him  pretty 
well.   I  got  quite  a  good  deal  out  of  him.  On  the 
whole,  however,  I've  never  been  the  kind  of  student 
who  was  taken  up  by  a  professor,  and  so  I  don't  look 
upon  my  education  as  particularly  tied  up  with 
individual  professors.  I've  thought  about  that,  and — 
see,  right  now  I'm  beginning  to  think  about  doing 
this  chapter  in  my  Autobiography,  so  I  had  to  think 
a  little  bit  along  these  lines — I've  never  been  a 
protlge.   I  always  worked  on  own,  really,  and 
professors  didn't  mean  too  much  to  me.  The  same  thing 
was  true  of  my  graduate  work.   I  did  it,  and  brought 
it  in,  and  they  said,  "Okay."  But  they  didn't  give 
me  much  direction.  That's  a  great  strength,  but  of 




Stewart:   course  it's  also  to  some  extent  a  weakness. 

mess:    It  sounds  like  you  were  going  in  directions  of  your 

Stewart:   I  don't  know  about  that.  I  had  a  fairly  conventional 
course.   I  wasn't  in  rebellion  against  the  establish 
ment  particularly.  But  I  Just — within  my  own  limits — 
I  Just  was  working  on  my  own. 

Riess:    Your  interest  in  metrics  must  have  begun  back  then. 

Stewart:   I  think  it  did,  yes.  I  think  that  was  a  natural 

interest  I  had.  You're  thinking  of  my  Ph.D.  thesis, 
and  the  other  book  I  did  on  metrics,  yes,  and  I  did 
several  articles  also. 

Riess:    What  was  it  about  metrics  that  interested  you? 

Stewart:   Oh,  I  suppose  a  liking  for  poetry  as  it  existed  in 

those  days.  Of  course,  Jo  (Miles)  thinks  I'm. a  great 
enemy  of  poetry,  but  I'm  not  really.  Just  certain 
kinds  of  poetry  I  don't  like.  Again,  there,  I  had  a 
kind  of  original  idea,  worked  mostly  on  my  own,  and 
I  didn't  owe  much  of  anything  to  any  professor  on 
that  thesis. 

Riess:    I  wonder  if  in  your  interest  in  place  names,  and 

naming,  the  sense  of  the  rhythm  and  metrics  is  very 

Stewart:   I  think  it  is,  yes.  There's  a  certain  romantic  sense 
about  the  names,  which  is  very  strong  with  me.   I 
love  passages  in  poetry  that  are  full  of  proper  names. 
Some  of  them  go  way  back.  There's  a  passage  in  the 
Homeric  hymns,  a  Hymn  to  Apollo,  which  is  built  up 
about  place  names.   I  love  that. 

Riess:    Were  you  reading  poetry  in  earlier  years  than  college? 

Stewart:   Yes,  the  sort  of  thing  you'd  expect.   Macaulay's  Lays 
of  Ancient  Romet  and  the  Ancient  Mariner,  and  things 
like  that. 

Hiess:    Did  you   "declaim" — that  is  the  word  for  standing  up 
and  doing  iff 

Stewart:  No,  not  much.   I've  never  been  much  good  at  that.   I 

don't  have  a  very  good  voice,  and  I  did  it  mostly  Just 


Reprinted  from  NAMES 

VOLUME  9  •  NUMBER  1  •  MARCH  1961 



[This  interview  was  recorded  on  June  29,  1959,  at  Verkeley,  California.  The  inter- 
viettee  is  George  R.  Stewart  (indicated  below  by  the.  initial  S).  The  interviewer  it  Joseph 
M.  Backus  (indicated  below  by  the  letter  I).  The  original  interview  hat  been  edited,  and 
the  final  text  hat  been  checked  by  Mr.  Stewart  for  accuracy.  This  it  the  second  such 
interview  to  appear  in  Names,  the  first  having  been  with  C.  S.  Foretter  (Vol.  1,  [1953], 
pp.  245  to  251)]. 

I.  Mr.  Stewart,  the  readers  of  Names  know  your  work  on  place  names  and  other 
actual  names.  But,  as  a  novelist,  you  have  also  worked  with  character  names.  Can 
you  tell  mo  how  many  novels  you  have  written  T 

S.     That's  an  easy  question  for  a  first  one.  I  havo  written  (even  novels. 

I.  Can  you  give  mo  an  idea  how  many  character  names  in  all  you  have  originated 
in  your  novels  T 

S.  Just  for  a  very  quick  estimate,  I  should  say  that  I  might  have  applied  at 
least  two  hundred  fictional  names  for  characters,  and  in  addition  there  would  b« 
perhaps  half  as  many  names  for  animals,  ships,  and  especially  for  places. 

I.  You  have  probably  mode  up  more  place  names  than  most  novelists  have. 
Wouldn't  you  Bay  so  ? 

S.  Yes,  I  suppose  that  has  been  something  of  a  specialty  of  mine,  probably 
because  I  have  boon  particularly  interested  in  place  names. 

I.  I  remember  you  have  also  named  storms,  forest  fires,  years  —  and  probably 
some  other  inanimate  objects  as  well.  But  before  considering  such  names,  I  would 
like  to  ask  about  the  names  of  human  characters.  In  looking  over  your  novels,  I 
have  found  that  Doctor's  Oral  contains  what  I  suspect  to  be  th»  largest  number  of 
character  names  —  forty.  Have  you  used  any  more  than  that  in  any  one  of  your 
other  novels  T 

S.  I  should  think  that  there  would  bo  moie  in  Fire  and  The  Years  of  the  City  — 
and  certainly  so,  if  you  count  names  of  places. 

I.  In  any  case  —  since,  in  dealing  with  academic  life,  Doctor's  Oral  comes  close 
to  your  own  experience  —  I  should  imagine  its  character  names  would  have  to  havo 
been  chosen  in  a  way  that  would  insure  their  not  being  identified  with  actual  per 
sons.  To  achieve  this  end,  was  any  system  of  coinage  used  for  these  names  ? 

S.  I  should  not  say  that  there  was  any  actual  system  used.  I  took  care  with  the 
unpleasant  characters  to  have  names  which  probably  cither  did  not  exist  or  would 
be  very  lare.  For  instance,  with  Professor  Martiuess  I  made  up  a  name  which  as 
far  as  I  know  docs  not  exist,  but  which  in  my  mind  was  a  kind  of  combination  of 
Martin  and  Martinez.  It  was  also  suitable  enough,  because  of  being  thus  made  up,  it 
was  a  somewhat  exotic  name  for  an  exotic  character. 

I.  Another  unlikeable  faculty  member,  Professor  Brice,  however,  bears  an 
actual  surname  that  is  not  uncommon.  Did  this  name  cause  the  character  to  be 
identified  with  any  real  person  T 



54       Interview 

S.  Not  so  far  iui  I  know.  The  whole  name,  J.  MacNair  lirico,  is  an  unlikely 
combination,  and  ulso  seemed  suitable  for  tho  character,  being  a  somewhat  gadget/ 
name  for  a  rather  gadgety  i>erson. 

I.  For  tliis  novel,  did  you  draw  from  lists  of  actual  names,  such  as  telephone 
directories  or  college  catalogues  —  as  novelists  are  sometimes  said  to  do  J 

S.  I  don't  think  that  I  have  ever  used  such  lists.  In  The  Years  of  the  City,  I 
compiled  one  for  myself.  That  story  deals  with  a  very  early  time  in  Greek  history 
when  I  would  have  had  some  difficulty  knowing  which  names  were  in  use.  I  went 
through  some  works  which  deal  with  this  little  known  period,  and  from  them 
compiled  a  list  of  about  a  hundred  names  actually  recorded  from  that  time.  I  kept 
this  list  handy  when  writing  the  book,  and  generally  picked  iny  names  from  it. 

I.  Did  you  over  make  use  of  tho  names  of  friends  or  actual  persons  for  fictional 
purposes  ? 

S.  Yes  -  but  I  think  in  only  the  two  novels,  Fire  and  Earth  Abides.  For  Fire, 
I  had  to  draw  a  detailed  fictional  map  of  the  whole  region,  and  this  involved  supply 
ing  fictional  place  names.  I  tried  to  proportion  these  so  that  tho  name-pattern  would 
give  tho  effect  that  might  be  expected  in  the  region  —  that  is,  there  were  some 
descriptive  names,  some  incident  names,  and  so  forth.  In  this  way,  T  used  the  names 
of  a  number  of  my  friends  —  on  Hart  Creek,  for  example  —  and  they  all  seemed 
quite  pleased  with  it.  Rather  amusingly,  however,  one  of  them  told  me  ho  was  dis 
appointed  because  his  name  appeared  on  tho  map,  but  he  did  not  find  it  in  the  text. 
The  reason,  of  course,  was  that  I  had  put  the  names  all  on  the  map,  but  it  was  not 
actually  needful  to  uso  that  particular  name  in  the  story.  I  also  made  a  few  references 
to  professors  in  the  University  in  that  book,  who  are  real  professors,  also  my  friends. 
In  Earlh  Abides,  I  used  my  own  house  in  the  story.  At  that  time,  I  lived  on  San 
Luis  Road  in  Berkeley,  and  so  I  used  San  Lupo  Drive.  That  made  it  seem  natural 
to  refer  to  some  of  my  neighbors,  who  lived  on  tho  street,  and  so,  incidentally,  the 
Hart  name  came  in  again.  One  of  the  boys  there  aftei  wards  yelled  at  ine  reproach 
fully  because  I  had  put  the  Hatficlds'  cat  in  the  book,  but  did  not  mention  his  own 
dog.  Hutsonville  in  that  book  has  also  been  noted  by  one  of  my  friends  as  being 
named  for  him. 

I.  Sometimes  in  your  novels  the  name  of  a  character  appears  without  intro 
duction,  as  the  first  word.  But  tho  chief  character  in  Earth  Abides  is  known  only  as 
"ho"  until  he  identifies  himself  by  means  of  his  signature  after  the  first  four  pages. 
Can  you  tell  the  purpose  of  withholding  the  name  ? 

S.  I  think  that  I  withheld  the  name  because  here  and  elsewhere  throughout 
that  book  I  was  trying  to  universalize  the  effect  as  much  as  possible,  in  order  to 
make  the  reader  feel  some  identification  with  the  chief  character. 

I.  Another  question  about  the  same  character  —  why  did  you  choose  the  unusual 
imme  Ishcrwood  Williams  for  tho  character  who  survives  a  cosmic  disaster  and 
becomes  the  ro-founder  of  the  human  race  ? 

S.  You  are  getting,  now,  really  deep  into  professional  secrets.  If  I  was  going  to 
give  him  the  name  Ishcrwood,  a  very  uncommon  one,  1  would  naturally  balance  it 
to  some  extent  by  giving  him  a  common  family  name,  so  that  his  full  name  would 
not  seem  entirely  impossible.  The  real  question,  however,  involves  Jsherwood, 
though  ho  is  not  called  that  in  the  book.  Ho  is  known  as  Ish,  and  Isherwood  was 


Jntrruiew        55 

the  name  Hint  I  gave  liitn  so  t  hut  ho  would  have  a  name  from  which  Jih  could  bo 
derived.  The  use  of  Ish  itself  is  merely  a  variant  of  the  device  frequently  used  by 
novelists  and  dramatists  to  givo  their  characters  universality,  Although  at  the  same 
time  to  conceal  it,  so  that  the  name  becomes  a  private,  or  genii-private,  code.  In 
short,  ish  in  Hebrew  means  "man." 

I.     Ish'g  wife  is  called  Em,  short  for  Emma.  Docs  this  name  have  significance  T 

S  Well,  the  Hebrew  for  woman  is  isfiah,  which  is,  incidentally,  now  the  trade 
name  of  a  widely  advertised  perfume.  But  I  could  not  very  well  have  Ish  roeet  a  girl 
named  Ishah.  Em,  however,  is  really  a  mother-character,  and  em  means  "mother" 
in  Hebrew. 

I.     Are  there  any  more  names  in  Earth  Abides  that  have  similar  significance  T 

S.  Most  of  them  do  not.  The  only  other  significant  name  is  Ezra,  which  means 
"helper"  in  Hebrew.  In  fact,  near  the  end  of  the  book,  Ish  refers  to  Ezra  as  "my 
good  helper." 

I.     Did  any  of  your  readers  understand  the  significance  of  these  names  T 

S.  At  least  one  person  wrote  me.  I  think  he  was  a  rabbi.  Rather  interestingly,  he 
inquired  if  I  knew  what  the  names  meant,  or  had  stumbled  on  them  by  accident. 

I.     Do  names  in  your  other  novels  have  any  special  significance  ? 

S.  I  have  avoided  giving  names,  like  Mr.  Goodhart  or  Miss  Flutters,  which  label 
character  crudely.  If  I  have  dono  thia,  it  has  at  least  been  covered  up  by  some 
foreign  languugo  and  hat)  not  been,  I  hope,  too  obvious.  On  the  whole,  I  think  that 
my  uso  of  names  has  become  more  froo  and  imaginative,  as  my  novels  have  pro 
gressed  and  I  got  a  greater  feeling  of  competence  in  what  I  was  doing. 

I.  Do  you  think  that  moving  in  this  direction  represents  an  improvement  in 
novelistic  technique  ? 

S.  I  am  hardly  the  one  to  make  such  a  judgment.  Probably  the  reason  why  I 
have  moved  in  this  direction  has  been  that  I  was  trying,  more  and  more,  to  uni 
versalize  the  experience  in  my  novels.  In  The  Years  of  the  City,  I  used  a  device  which 
one  reviewer  spotted  and  did  not  like.  That  novel  is  in  four  parts,  each  one  centered 
in  a  particular  character,  who  is  in  each  case  the  son  of  the  preceding  one.  As  the 
reviewer  noted,  the  names  of  these  characters  ran  in  a  series  A,  B,  C,  D  —  for  their 
initials.  (Actually,  I  suppose  it  should  have  been  A,  B,  G,  D,  since  that  is  the  order 
of  the  Greek  alphabet.)  I  still  treasure  the  detail,  however,  that  the  reviewer  did  not 
notice  there  are  five  in  the  series,  because  there  is  finally  a  character  who  is  supposed 
to  carry  the  story  on  still  farther,  and  his  name  begins  with  an  E.  These  names  also 
had  some  slight  significance,  or  suggestion  of  it,  as  is  pointed  out  in  the  book  itself 
here  and  there.  Archias,  while  a  real  Greek  name  of  the  early  period,  suggests  the 
beginning,  as  we  sec  in  the  word  "archaic"  itself.  Bion,  his  son,  has  a  name  derived 
from  a  word  meaning  "life,"  and  it  is  suggested  in  the  book  that  he  is  given  this 
name  as  a  good  omen,  since  he  is  born  to  his  parents  as  a  first  child  —  when  his  father 
is  already  old  —  and  so  there  is  the  particular  need  that  ho  should  cling  to  life.  It  is 
also  a  good  name  in  the  course  of  the  novel,  since  Bion  represents  the  strength  of 
the  city.  Callias  is  from  the  word  meaning  "beauty,"  and  this  suggests  that  the  city 
has  left  its  period  of  strength  and  is  moving  on  to  a  kind  of  aesthetic  middle  age. 
Diothemis  is  probably  rather  bad  Greek,  but  I  coined  it  with  the  suggestion  that  it 
would  mean  the  judgment  of  God,  since  Diothemis  lives  in  the  time  of  the  city  when 


56       Inter oicw 

it  is  approaching  destruction,  partly  because  of  the  sins  of  the  fathers.  The  last  one 
is  Eschatz,  which  is  obviously  not  good  Greek.  I  used  it  to  iuggC8t  that  things  had 
gone  to  pieces  very  badly,  and  that  this  barbiirisra  (really  a  mimmdoi  stood  baby 
name)  was  to  bo  connected  with  the  Greek  word  meaning  "last." 

I.     Can  you  toll  me  something  about  the  name  of  the  city  itself  -  Phrax  T 

S.  More  time  and  thought  went  into  the  selection  or  fabrication  of  that  mono 
syllabic  name  than  the  reader  might  imagine.  In  the  first  place,  there  is,  as  far  as  I 
know,  no  such  name  in  the  records  of  antiquity.  For  my  city,  I  wanted  a  "practical" 
name,  that  is,  one  which  would  not  give  too  much  trouble  in  pronunciation  and  one 
which  would  yield  a  good  ethnic  name  -  that  is,  Phragians  -  for  the  citizens  of  that 
city.  I  also  did  not  want  a  Greek  name,  because  the  Greeks  very  rarely  used  a  Greek 
name  for  one  of  their  cities.  So  1  made  up  a  name  from  mere  sounds,  with  tlio 
suggestion  that  this  was  some  barbarous  local  name  which  the  Greeks  had  taken  over. 
There  is  a  scene  in  the  novel  describing  how  they  learned  what  the  name  of  the  place 
was.  I  used  the  same  general  practice  for  the  other  place  names  of  the  novel  —  that 
is,  they  are  not  Greek  and  have  no  meaning. 

I.  When  you  plan  a  novel,  do  you  work  out  the  place  names  and  the  names  of 
characters  before  you  begin  to  write  T 

S.  Yes,  I  do.  Of  course,  in  writing  a  novel,  one  often  has  to  use  names  for  charac 
ters  who  may  just  appear  incidentally,  and  it  is  not  ]>osMiblo  to  think  up  names  for 
them  all  in  advance.  On  the  whole,  I  would  say  that  this  is  a  good  practice  —  to  have 
names  worked  out  ahead  of  time  in  so  far  as  it  is  {wssible.  When  you  are  using  a  map, 
for  instance,  it  becomes  almost  obligatory  to  get  the  names  on  the  map  proj>erly,  or 
you  will  get  into  difficulty  and  inconsistency  before  the  end  of  the  book. 

I.     Among  the  characters  in  your  novels,  do  you  have  a  favorite  name  ? 

S.  There  are  many  such  names  —  ones  that  I  like.  But  at  this  time  I  might  say 
that  I  think  anyone  —  most  of  all  perhaps  the  author  himself—  must  have  difficulty 
in  separating  his  feeling  about  the  name  from  his  feeling  about  the  character.  If 
a  character  comes  off  successfully,  you  have  a  feeling  that  the  name,  too,  comes  off 
successfully,  and  so  is  a  suitable  name.  In  fact,  this  brings  me  to  say  something 
about  characters'  names  more  in  general.  Although  there  would  seem  to  be  "suit 
able"  names,  the  matter  is  not  as  simple  as  some  people  think.  It  seems  to  me 
something  of  a  chicken-egg  problem  —  as  to  which  came  first.  It  is  like  the  argument 
as  to  whether  a  certain  line  of  poetry  is  a  good  line  because  of  its  haunting  rhythm  or 
whether  wo  think  it  to  have  a  haunting  rhythm  because  it  is  a  good  line  to  begin 
with.  But  to  return  to  characters  -  when  Shakespeare  wrote  a  tragedy  about  Ham 
let,  did  he  think  that  Hamlet  was  a  particularly  good  name  for  a  tragic  hero  ?  After 
Hamlet  proved  to  be  a  supremely  successful  tragedy,  the  name,  by  that  very  process, 
became  a  suitable  one  for  a  tragic  hero.  If  I/amlel  had  been  a  comic  play,  doubtless 
Hamlet  would  be  a  good  name  for  a  comic  character.  In  other  words,  if  a  character 
comes  off  successfully,  you  naturally  begin  to  think  that  his  name  is  a  suitable  name 
for  that  sort  of  character. 

I.     Can  you  give  an  example  from  your  own  work  T 

S.  Well,  a  very  minor  character  who  appoars  in  both  Storm  and  Fire  is  Johnny 
Martley  — 


Interview       57 

1.     Why  Ho  you  call  him  Johnny  instead  of  John  ? 

S.  OJi,  just  because  ho  ia  never  mentioned  except  as  Johnny  —  though  that,  of 
course,  brings  up  the  much  larger  question  as  to  how  much  existence  a  character 
may  be  said  to  have  in  a  novelist's  imagination  aside  from  what  goes  on  pajjcr. 
1  suppose  on  tho  books  of  the  utility  company  for  which  he  worked  ho  was  carried  as 
John,  but  he  is  always  Johnny  in  tho  novel.  And  since  Johnny  Martley  makes  a 
pair  of  good  trochees,  that  is  undoubtedly  one  reason  I  think  of  it  as  a  suitable  name 
for  a  character  who  had  a  lot  of  energy  and  a  certain  amount  of  jauntincss. 

I.  Gelett  Burgess,  in  discussing  character  names,  indicated  that  he  used  geo 
graphical  prefixes  and  suffixes  to  suggest  a  character's  aristocratic  background.  Did 
you  have  any  similar  ideas  in  using  Hawkhurst,  or  Holtby  ? 

S.  Everyone  is  likely  to  have  certain  associations  with  name-elements.  I  do  not 
think  that  1  have  any  particular  predilection  for  names  containing  elements  re 
ferring  to  place,  even  though  I  used  those  you  mention.  I  think  I  have  used  such 
names  somewhat  commonly,  because,  by  taking  the  elements  of  names  apart,  and 
then  reeombining  them,  you  are  often  able  to  coin  a  name  which  seems  quite  familiar, 
and  yet  may  not  exist  at  all  —  and  is  therefore  a  safe  name  for  a  novelist  to  use. 
Holtby  may  be  an  example.  It  looks  like  a  regular  name,  but  I  don't  think  you  will 
find  it  in  the  telephone  book. 

I.     Can  you  say  which  of  your  names  have  been  best  accepted  by  readers  ? 

S.  I  have  always  been  pleased  with  the  acceptance  of  Ponderosa  National 
Forest.  The.  name  is  in  itself  an  obvious  one,  since  "ponderosa"  is  the  name  of  a 
common  typo  of  pine.  To  create  the  forest,  I  shoved  the  Plumas  and  Tahoc  forests 
apart,  and  put  the  Ponderosa  between  them.  The  name  was  successful  enough  to 
make  people  stop  in  at  the  southern-mast  ranger  station  of  the  Plumas  Forest  and 
ask  where  the  Ponderosa  Forest  was.  They  had  been  driving  north  through  tho 
Tahoe,  expecting  to  come  to  tho  Ponderosa,  but  suddenly  found  themselves  in  the 

I.  In  an  article  in  Names  [3(1955),  p.  34],  Erwin  Gudde  indicated  that  Storm 
established  a  precedent  that  meteorologists  have  since  followed  in  assigning  girls' 
names  to  hurricanes. 

S.  I  believe  that  is  correct.  Tho  question  might  still  be  raised,  however,  why  I 
called  the  storm  Maria.  As  I  have  indicated  in  an  introduction  I  wrote  for  a  later 
edition  of  the  novel,  the  name  is  to  be  pronounced  in  the  English  and  not  in  tho 
Spanish  manner.  For  some  reason,  quite  possibly  because  of  the  sound,  Maria  has 
come  to  have  in  English  a  certain  loud  and  boisterous  quality.  At  least,  it  had  that 
association  for  me,  and  I  think  that  this  U  why  the  storm  got  the  name  it  did.  . . . 
Going  back  to  your  earlier  question,  I  suppose  that  I  would  really  have  to  say,  on 
my  own  premises,  that  Maria  is  my  favorite  name.  At  least,  it  seems  to  be  the  most 
successful  ono»  It  has  been  used  in  a  song-hit,  in  the  line  "They  call  the  wind  Maria." 
I  have  also  heard  on  the  radio  that  "the  storm  was  a  regular  Maria"  and  seen  such 
references  as  "Maria  has  become  a  part  of  American  folklore." 

I.  Is  there  anything  you  would  liko  to  add  generally  about  the  names  in  your 
novels  ? 

S.  I  could  certainly  say  a  great  deal  more,  but  I  think  that  perhaps  Maria  is  as 
good  a  name  as  any  with  which  to  end. 


Stewart:   In  my  own  mind.   I  still  do  it,  now,  still  repeat 

lots  of  poetry  to  myself.  Usually  stuff  I've  known 
for  many  years.   I've  found  that  my  mind  doesn't  pick 
it  up  as  easily  as  it  used  to.   What  I  know  is  mostly 
what  I've  had  for  many  years.   But  I  still  like  the 
sound  of  the  words,  and  the  way  they  fall  into 

Riess:    During  the  years  you  were  in  the  Army,  1917-1920,  did 
you  keep  studying  on  your  own? 

Stewart:  By  that  time  I  had  pretty  well  decided  to  go  into 

graduate  work  in  English,  and  I  kept  on  reading  along 
those  lines.   I  read  Tom  Jones  for  the  first  time,  I 
remember,  while  I  was  in  the  Army.  My  service  was  all 
in  this  country,  and  books  were  fairly  easy  to  get. 
We  usually  had  some  kind  of  camp  library,  and  you  had 
a  good  deal  of  time  in  the  Army  like  that,  not  out  on 
active  duty.  So  I  got  a  great  deal  of  reading  done. 
I  even  studied  Anglo-Saxon.   I  did  the  first  course 
in  Anglo-Saxon  by  myself  in  the  Army.   I  never  had  a 
beginning  course  when  I  was  at  college,  but  I  went 
into  the  Beowulf  class  at  the  graduate  level  at 
Columbia,  and  did  the  work  successfully. 

Riess:    You  Just  had  a  textbook,  and  worked  your  way  through? 

Stewart:   Yes.   Of  course  I  don't  think  that's  too  good,  because 
you  get  a  kind  of  skewed  knowledge.   I  think  you 
ought  to  have  the  formal  discipline.  But  I've  worked 
out  a  lot  of  stuff  by  myself. 

Over  the  course  of  the  years  I  have  taught  myself 
a  great  many  subjects,  but  I  am  not  really  sure  that 
I  am  particularly  outstanding  in  that  respect,  for  I 
think  that  a  great  many  people  do  that  as  they  go 
along,  if  they  are  professors  or  otherwise  Indulge 
in  intellectual  work.   I  have  never  had  a  class  in 
Spanish,  but  I  have  taught  myself  pretty  well  to  read 
for  scholarly  purposes.   I  have  also  taught  myself 
enough  to  do  something  with  Portuguese  and  Dutch.   I 
taught  a  Middle  English  course  for  many  years,  but 
the  only  work  I  had  in  Middle  English  in  class  was 
a  course  or  two  in  Chaucer.  Even  in  American  literature 
I  was  largely  self-taught. 

In  the  study  of  place  names  I  suppose  that  I  am 
one  of  the  leading  scholars  of  the  world,  but  I  never 
had  a  course  in  it.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  it  is  not 


Stewart:  a  field,  in  which  courses  are  generally  given.   I 

think,  however,  you  will  find  that  many  professors 
have  thus  worked  up  fields  for  themselves. 

Aside  from  not  having  been  very  much  influenced 
by  formal  disciplines,  I  have  also  been  a  lonely 
scholar,  and  have  not  been  greatly  Influenced  by 
people  with  whom  I  have  associated.  I  have  never 
gone  to  meetings  very  much.   I  didn't  feel  the  need 
of  it,  though  I  would  probably  have  enjoyed  going  if 
things  had  worked  out  more  in  that  way.  Self-reliance 
to  that  degree  is  good  on  the  whole,  I  believe.  But 
it  may  be  an  eccentricity  of  scholarship,  and  may 
lead  to  bad  mistakes  here  and  there. 

(One  thing  I've  said  about  this  bookbinding 
interest  of  mine  is,  "I'm  going  to  take  a  course  and 
get  this  started  right."  Then  the  course  was  so  bad, 
I  really  didn't  learn  much  from  it.  But  I  get  some 
thing  out  of  Harry  Roberts  [bookmender]  over  at 
Bancroft. ) 

Riess:    Where  did  you  learn  your  research  techniques? 

Stewart:   I  must  have  picked  them  up  myself,  and  I've  always 
felt  rather  weak  in  one  department;  I  never  have 
mastered  the  question  of  getting  bibliographies 
together  properly.  I'm  sure  there  must  be  some  point 
when  I  should  have  learned  to  do  that  better  than  I 
do.  Maybe  there  isn't.  I  don't  know.  Maybe  it's 
a  thing  nobody  can  do,  altogether;  the  very  fact  that 
you're  trying  to  find  it  means  that  you  have  to  go 
at  it  hit  or  miss,  and  you  find  what  comes  along. 

Graduate  study  was  not  very  well  organized  in 
my  day  really. 

Riess:    You're  talking  about  the  year  at  Berkeley? 

Stewart:  Yes,  and  Columbia.  Now,  for  instance,  they  always 
have  a  course  on  bibliography,  on  getting  material 

I  was  saved  on  this  American  Place  Names  book  by 
the  bibliography  that  a  couple  of  librarians  got  out.* 

*R.  B.  Sealock,  and.  P.  A.  Seely,  Bibliography  of  Place 
Names  Literature.  Chicago,  194-8. 


Stewart:  They  were  actually  Inspired  by  my  Names  on  the  Land 

to  do  the  work  I  Their  volume  was  absolutely  essential 
to  me.   I  never  would  have  even  tried  the  Job  If  I 
hadn't  had  that  bibliography.  That  gave  me  a  check 
that  I  was  not  missing  anything  of  great  importance, 
at  least. 

Riess:    You  speak  in  There  Was  Light  of  the  Influence  of 
Herbert  Bolt on.* That  was  your  first  feeling  for 
Western  history? 

Stewart:  Yes,  it  was.  Very  definitely. 

Riess:    But  then  you  went  back  to  Columbia  and  did  the  metrics 
thing.  Why  didn't  you  stay  here?  They  were  not 
giving  a  Ph.D.  yet? 

Stewart:  They  were  giving  a  Ph.D.  but  they'd  only  given  two  or 
three  I  suppose,  and  the  department  was  rather  badly 
organized.  Gayley  was  Just  retiring.  They  didn't 
have  really  good  work  on  the  graduate  level  at  that 

Riess:    Why  did  you  come  here  for  the  master's,  actually? 

Stewart:  Well,  partly  I  wanted  to  make  the  contacts  here, 

because  I  had  lived  in  California,  and  I  liked  the 
idea  of  being  in  California  and  I  figured  one  way  to 
make  contacts  was  to  come  here  for  this  year. 
(Actually  it  worked  out  very  well.   I've  been  here 
ever  since — the  wisdom  of  the  serpent.)  And  it  was 
a  good  enough  place  to  do  master's  work  in.   I  had 
thought  it  was  better  than  it  was  when  I  came  here. 
Actually  it  was  not  a  very  good  place,  but  it  worked 
out  all  right  for  that. 

Riess:    Did  you  have  the  work  on  R.  L.  Stevenson  in  mind  when 
you  came  here? 

Stewart:  No,  I  didn't.  I  developed  that  after  I  came  here. 
It  was  a  very  good  idea  too.  It  worked  out  very 
well.   I  told  about  that  in  that  little  chapter 
you're  speaking  of. 

*There  Was  Light.  Autobiography  of  a  University, 
Berkeley;       1968,  edited  by  Irving  Stone, 
Doubleday,  1970,  p. 



Stewart:       What  might  have  been  done  and  what  could  have 
been  done — I  thought  about  it  vaguely — was  carrying 
that  on  for  a  Ph.D.  thesis,  and  doing  the  whole 
contact  of  Stevenson  with  the  United  States,  which 
might  have  been  all  right.   I  started  to  work  at 
Columbia  with  Carl  Van  Doren.   I  wanted  to  get  into 
American  literature.  I  had  made  up  my  mind  on  that 
too,  although  I  had  a  very  bad  background  in  it 
because  Princeton  didn't  teach  any  American  literature, 
So  I  started  in  to  work  on  it  with  Carl  Van  Doren 
and  he  started  me  working  on  what  really  was  the 
study  of  reputations  of  American  writers  in  England. 
And  I  did  that  study  on  Whitman,  which  I  published, 
a  little  essay. 

I  got  discouraged  on  that  really  because,  I 
think,  as  I  look  upon  it  now,  he  didn't  handle  me 
right.  He  threw  me  into  it,  and  the  thing  looked  too 
big  to  me.   I  realize  now  it  could  have  been  cut  down. 
That's  what  a  professor  should  have  done.  He  should 
have  said,  "Look  here,  you  can't  do  all  that.  You've 
got  to  cut  this  down,  and  get  a  definite  limitation." 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  after  I  decided  to  quit  it,  and 
take  up  something  else,  he  told  me  that,  but  he  made 
his  mistake  by  not  handling  me  that  way  beforehand. 
If  I'd  done,  say,  three  people,  that  would  have  been 
plenty  I  think.   I  could,  have  done  Whitman,  and 
Emerson  and  Thoreau,  or  something  like  that.  That 
would  have  been  plenty.   In  fact  now,  the  way  they  do 
theses,  they  probably  would  have  done  half  of  Whitman. 
The  scale  of  theses  is  getting  more  and  more  minute. 

But  that's  the  time  when  I  quit  that  and  went 
into  the  metrics.  I  thought  I  had  a  good  idea  to 
work  on,  and  it  was  something  I  could  encompass.   I 
did  an  awful  lot  of  work,  but  I  got  through  it  in 
pretty  fast  time.  Much  to  everybody's  surprise,  I 
think,  in  the  graduate  school  there. 

Stewart : 


Were  you  working  with  somebody  on  that? 

Well,  I  was  working  with  Professor  [Ashley  Horace] 
Thorndyke,  but  not  really.   I  mean  he  wasn't  doing 
much.  He  Just  let  me  stew  around,  but  I  came  out 
all  right. 

Whitman,  Emerson  and  Thoreau. 

Did  you  like  those 


Stewart:  Not  particularly.   I  Just  mentioned  those  as  examples. 

Riess:    I  had  a  feeling  from  something  I  read  that  you  have 
no  use  for  Thoreau. 

Stewart:  Well,  I  don't  know  what  you  read — you  say  something 
I  wrote? 

Riess:    Probably  it  was  one  of  those  times  when  I  assumed  that 
the  hero  was  speaking  for  you.* 

Stewart:  Yes.  Well,  I  don't  know.  I  am  pretty  ambiguous  about 
Thoreau,  particularly  when  they  start  crying  him  up 
as  the  great  prophet  of  democracy.  Thoreau  is  not  a 
democrat — Thoreau' s  an  anarchist,  and  I  think — I  don't 
go  for  Thoreau  too  much.   Or  Emerson  either,  as  far 
as  that's  concerned.  I  took  Emerson's  primary  advice, 
that  is,  "Be  self-reliant."  Having  said  that,  I 
didn't  need  any  more  Emerson,   [laughter] 

No,  I  mentioned  those  three  Just  because  they 
would  be  good  examples  of  that  particular  thing.  You 
see,  Whitman  and  Thoreau  were  more  appreciated  in 
England  for  a  long  time  than  they  were  in  the  United 
States.  Perhaps  not  Emerson.  But  they  would  be 
examples.   Melville  would  have  been  a  good  example, 
of  course. 

But  for  my  Ph.D.  thesis  I  ran  through  practically 
all  English  poetry  from  1700  down  to  1900*  and  put 
that  together!   Of  course  I  looked  upon  the  Ph.D.  as 
a  thing  you  ought  to  get  into  and  get  over  with,  and 
I  think  that's  the  right  attitude  toward  a  Ph.D.  So 
many  of  these  people  go  at  it  as  if  the  Ph.D.  thesis 
were  going  to  be  their  great  work  in  life.  Often 
that's  what  it  amounts  to,  with  people  working  for 
years  and  years,  and  they  grow  old  before  they  even 
get  their  Ph.D.   Once  you  get  your  Ph.D.,  you're  a 
great  deal  freer  to  do  what  you  want  to  do  than  you 
were  before.  So  I  looked  upon  it  as  something  which 
should  be  kept  within  scope,  so  it  could  get  finished 
up,  and  then  you  can  do  things  without  the  supervision 
of  somebody  else. 

Riess:    Your  dissertation,  fl[od,ern  Metrical  Technique,  was 
then  privately  published  in  1922. 

*See  Sheep  Rock. 



Stewart:   Well,  that  was  a  crazy  business.   It  was  the  rule  at 
Columbia  at  that  time.  We  had  to  publish  It — a  very 
bad  rule.  I  think  It  stemmed  back  to  the  old  German 
system,  and  of  course  in  the  German  system  publication 
was  pretty  cheap,  and  they  were  very  small  theses, 
generally,  so  the  expense  was  probably  not  too  much. 
But  the  American  theses  tended  to  run  a  lot  longer, 
so  the  expense  of  publication  became  a  serious  matter. 
I  beat  that  game,  as  It  happened,  because  I  had  this 
disability  from  the  Army,  and  there  was  a  kind  of  G.I. 
bill  at  that  time — it  didn't  amount  to  very  much — but 
they  would  pay  tuition  and  that  kind  of  thing.   I  put 
it  up  to  them,  and  said,  MIfve  got  to  publish  this  to 
get  my  degree."  [laughing]  I  had  a  good  case  and 
they  published  it!   They  did  an  awful  Job  of  it, 
though.   They  Just  took  my  manuscript  and  printed  it, 
and  I  never  even  saw  a  proof  on  the  thing,  so  it  was 
really  a  shame.   If  they  put  all  that  money  into 
doing  it,  they  should  have  done  it  with  care.   I  was 
ashamed  to  show  it  to  anybody,  it  was  so  full  of 
typographical  errors. 

Riess:    Is  The  Technique  of  English  Verse  (Holt  &  Co.,  1930), 
based  on  your  dissertation? 

Stewart:  No,  it's  considerably  different.  Different  approach. 
The  dissertation  was  really  historical. 

Rless:    I  see. 

Did  you  have  a  commitment  from  Berkeley  to  come 
back  and  teach? 

Stewart:  No.  I  went  to  Columbia,  and  I  hardly  heard  from 

Berkeley  for  a  couple  of  years,  and  then  after  I'd 
accepted  that  position  at  Michigan,  they  made  me  an 
offer,  which  I  didn't  feel  I  could  accept  under  the 
circumstances.   So  I  went  to  Michigan  for  a  year, 
and  then  they  made  me  an  offer  again;  so  I  took  it 
that  time. 

Riess:    Then  you  returned  to  Berkeley  in  1923  to  teach. 

Stewart:  I  had  a — really  I  had  a  pretty  frustrating  time  for 
a  good  many  years  in  Berkeley.  It  didn't  work  out 
too  well.   I  got  stalled  in  the  assistant  professor 
rank  for  a  long  time.   I  was  in  the  shade  of  a  lot 
of  people. 

Riess:    Was  It  the  field  that  you  were  in?  You  mean,  in  the 
shade  in  terms  of  teaching? 

Stewart:  Yes,  other  people  senior  to  me  in  the  same  field, 
and  I  guess  I  Just  wasn't  too  good  in  those  days. 
I  got  better,  then. 

Riess:    Did  anybody  ever  pop  in  and  listen  to  you  lecture  and 
give  you  pointers?  Was  there  any  sort  of  follow-up 
on  teaching? 

Stewart:  Almost  none. 

Riess:    Was  it  kind  of  painful  for  you  to  teach? 

Stewart:   Oh,  teaching  was  never  painful  to  me.   I  wasn't  the 
kind  of  person  that  was  worried  too  much  about  that. 
There  are  people  of  course  who  never  get  comfortable 
before  a  class.  No,  that  didn't  bother  me  too  much, 
but  I  wanted  to  get  into  American  literature  and  I 
did  eventually,  but  it  was  a  long  time  before  I  really 
got  a  chance.  And  that's  when  I  got  into  teaching 
Chaucer  and  Middle  English,  which  I  really  had  no 
business  doing  at  all.  But  I  enjoyed  that,  and  I  got 
a  lot  out  of  it.   I  think  I  did  some  good  teaching 
in  that  too. 

I  experimented  with  various  fields,  which  I 
think  is  all  right.  I  like  to  teach  different  things. 
I  taught  Shakespeare  for  a  little  while.   I  never 
took  very  well  to  teaching  Shakespeare  though, 
probably  because  I  didn't  like  the  way  the  course 
was  organized.   It  was  not  a  course  in  which  I  was 
free.  It  was  a  course  which  was  organized  for 
departmental  ends,  and  I  had  to  fit  into  a  certain 
pattern.   I  didn't  go  on  very  far  with  that.  The 
Chaucer  course  I  organized  on  my  own,  and  then  I  took 
on  that  Middle  English  course,  which  I  taught  for 
a  good  many  years. 

Riess:    Did  you  get  into  cross-departmental  things  in  those 

early  years?  I  think  of  your  interest,  for  Instance, 
in  geology  and  biology.   Did  you  make  a  broad  thing 
out  of  your  courses? 

Stewart:  No,  I  don't  think  so  particularly.  I  believe  in 
sticking  to  your  last  on  that  kind  of  a  course. 

Riess:    You  seem  like  such  an  interdisciplinary  person. 


Stewart:  Yes.   I  don't  think  I  did  much  on  those  lines.  Of 
course  you  always  have  to  get  into  some  historical 
background.   I  always  enjoyed  that.   I'm  an  example 
to  some  extent  of  the  uses  of  adversity  in  all  that 
time,  because  the  very  fact  that  I  wasn't  working 
well  in  any  particular  line,  I  was  Just  hanging  on, 
I  wasn't  particularly  successful,  I  was  looking 
around  for  other  things  to  do,  that's  when  I  got 
the  good  idea  about  Ordeal  by  Hunger,  which  was 
really  kind  of  a  key  book  with  me.*  (Well,  I  guess 
the  Bret  Harte  book  was  too.**)  That  showed  me  I 
could  really  turn  out  a  book.  And  then,  with  the 
idea  about  the  Dormer  Party,  I  got  away,  strictly 
speaking,  from  the  departmental  field,  and  got 
confidence  to  go  ahead  along  that  line. 

But  I  wouldn't  ever  have  done  that  if  things 
had  been  going  along  well  for  me,  probably,  in  other 

Riess:    Are  you  saying,  "Thank  goodness,  I  didn't  take  so 

well  to  teaching."  Or  is  it  not  really  important  to 
you  that  you  were  almost  forced  into  doing  the 

Stewart:  Well,  I  think  I  probably  had  a  more  interesting  life 
the  way  it  worked  out  than  I  would  the  other  way. 
But  I  don't  know.  For  instance,  well,  say  I'd  gone 
ahead  more  rapidly,  promo tions^in  the  department. 
Say  I  had  been  somebody's  protege,  somebody  shoved 
me  ahead,  the  way  it  often  happens  in  any  kind  of 
work.  Say  I'd  got  to  be  instructor  of  graduate 
students,  directing  theses,  that  sort  of  thing.  It's 
a  very  fine  life.  Actually  I  envy  a  man  who  has  a 
lot  of  old  Ph.D.  students  around.   It's  wonderful. 
A  man  like  Joel  Hildebrand,  for  instance.  I  have 
only  four  that  I've  directed.  If  things  had  gone 
along  in  that  line,  I  would  have  been  doing  some 
writing,  of  course,  some  research  work,  I  always 
would,  no  matter  what  I  was  doing,  I  would  have  done 
that.   That  would  have  been  a  very  good  life  too. 
As  it  was,  I  was  still  an  assistant  professor  when  I 

*0rdeal  by  Hunger,  the  Story  of  the  Dormer  Party. 
Holt  &  Co.,  New  York,  1936. 

**Bret  Harte.  Argonaut  and  Exile,  Houghton  Mifflin  & 
Co.,  New  York,  1931. 


Stewart:  published  the  Bret  Harte  book.  I  didn't  get  my 

promotion  after  that  either,  though  I  really  had  it 
coming  to  me. 

In  a  sense  I'd  got  to  feeling,  well,  I've  done 
enough  work  up  there  to  get  my  promotion,  but  they 
won't  promote  me,  so  what's  the  use  of  doing  a  lot 
more  just  to  get  my  associate  professorship?  The 
Donner  Rarty  had  always  appealed  to  me  as  a  great 
story  which  ought  to  be  written.  So  I  pretty 
consciously  said,  "What  have  I  got  to  lose?  I  might 
as  well  risk  something  and  do  this."  I  had  a 
wonderful  time  doing  it.  And  the  book  is  still  going 
along,  very  nicely. 

Riess:    This  was  in  the  Montgomery  department  that  you  were 

Stewart:   Oh,  well,  before  that  too,  even  when  Durham  was 

chairman.  Then  it  got  worse.  I  did  get  my  promotion 
to  associate  professor  in  there  somewhere,  but  it  was 
awfully  slow. 

Riess:    So  you  really  have  to  believe  in  the  power  of 

departmental  politics  and  selling  yourself  and  all 
that  kind  of  thing. 

Stewart:  Well,  that's  the  sort  of  thing  I  never  was  very  good 

Riess:    It  amazes  me  that  you  can  at  this  point  say  that  one 
life  would  have  been  as  good  and  as  rewarding  as 
another.  As  I  read  your  English  department  history, 
I  felt  your  sense  of  how  Walter  Morris  Hart  was  a 
tragic  figure,  and  yet  he  had  obviously  had  all  of 
the  things  that  you  are  describing  as  being  desirable, 
the  graduate  students,  and  the  contacts  —  .* 

Stewart:  No,  he  didn't  have  too  much.  Not  really.  He  was  in 
the  position  of  being  frustrated.  You  see,  he  never 
really  came  back  after  he  was  in  the  administrative 
work.  He  never  caught  up  with  what  had  happened  in 
the  meantime. 

*The  Department  of  English  of  the  University  of 
California  on  the  Berkeley  Campus,  by  George  R. 
Stewart,  University  of  California,  1968,  p.  2*4-. 



Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Then  you  are  describing  the  dangers  of  the  too  rapid 

I  don't  think  rapid  assent  is  all  bad.  When  a  man 
has  the  stuff,  I  think  that's  when  you  should  push 
him  as  hard  as  you  can.   Maybe  I  shouldn't  have  been 
pushed;  that  may  be  all  right.  I'm  not  complaining 
of  that  particularly.  But  I  think  either  being 
pushed  too  fast  or  held  back  too  much  is  likely  to 
be  bad  for  a  man. 

They've  got  men  in  the  department  now  who  have 
made  full  professor,  oh,  at  not  much  over  thirty. 
I  think  there's  a  question  of  whether  that's  a  good 
thing  for  them  or  not.  Maybe  it  will  be,  I  wouldn't 
be  surprised.   I  talked  to  one  of  them  the  other  day, 
and  said,  "Now  you've  done  everything  at  thirty-two, 
what  are  you  going  to  spend  the  rest  of  your  life 

That  shocked  him  a  little.   It's  a  problem, 
Is  he  going  to  keep  on  going  through 


Just  the  same. 

the  same  old  round  of  stuff,  turning  out  Ph.D. 
candidates?  That's  a  long  time  from  thirty- two  to 

Because  why?  Why  isn't  it  Just  like  a  Job?  Lots  of 
people  do  repetitive  Jobs. 

Well,  of  course,  that's  what  would  never  satisfy  me. 
I  don't  think  it  will  satisfy  this  man  either, 
probably.   I  don't  think  that's  what  a  professor 
should  be. 

It  sounds  risky  to  attain  goals  too  early. 

I  think  it  is.   I've  known  people  around  universities 
that  would  seem  to  illustrate  that,  people  who  I 
think  were  pushed  too  fast  in  the  sense  of  never 
having  to  work  for  what  they  got,  or  didn't  go  on 
beyond  a  certain  point.  Of  course  you  have  this 
whole  problem  about  aging.  There  are  brilliant  under 
graduates  who  never  got  anywhere  beyond  that,  and 
brilliant  graduate  students  who  never  amount  to 
anything  afterwards.  And  I  think  you  have  brilliant 
young  professors — I  think  it's  a  kind  of  aging 
process,  often.  They  reach  a  certain  stage,  and 
they  don't  develop  beyond  that. 

What  I  was  thinking  about  was  when  I  was  in 
college,  once  with  some  friends  we  laid  down  our 

J  f. 

Stewart ; 


ambitions  in  life  [laughing],  the  way  people  will 
at  that  time.   I  had  the  usual  things,  about  having 
a  good  Job  and  a  nice  family  and  so  forth,  the  usual 
bourgeois  ambitions.  And  then  I  remember  something 
that  I've  often  thought  of  since,  that  I  wanted  to 
have  some  kind  of  work  that  was  expanding,  so  I'd 
always  be  pushed  harder,  always  have  the  sense  of 
being  pushed  harder  to  do  the  next  thing.   I  really 
kept  that  up.  I  really  had  that  kind  of  life.  And 
I've  always  felt  a  sense  of,  "This  next  book  is  going 
to  be  the  best  book  I've  ever  done.   It's  going  to 
be  something  different  from  the  last  one."  I've 
always  managed  to  keep  that  up  quite  well.  I  haven't 
lost  it  altogether  yet.  Of  course  that's  one  of  the 
great  problems  with  aging.  You  get  to  the  point 
where  you  can't  quite  do  it.  But  this  book  I'm 

working  on  now  is  plenty  tough! 
going  to  be  plenty  big  too. 

[laughing]   It's 

(I  was  sitting  here  two  nights  ago  and  the 
telephone  rang.   It  was  the  Metropolitan  Museum  in 
New  York.   Some  girl  was  surely  working  overtime, 
because  it  was  about  nine  or  ten  o'clock  back  there. 
They  wanted  to  use  two  pictures  out  of  my  U.S.  *fO.» 
That's  nice,  you  know.   Called  up  the  next  morning, 
and  they  wanted  to  use  two  more.  So  there  is  the 
sense  of  still  going  to  expand,  to  go  on  a  little 
bit  more.  That's  very  important  to  me.  You  were 
speaking  about  doing  a  routine  job — I  couldn't — 
Oh,  I  suppose  I  could  do  it,  after  all,  I'd  adapt 
enough  so  that  I  could  do  it,  but  that  wouldn't  ever 
be  what  I  would  think  of  doing. ) 

Riess:    You  said  the  Bret  Harte  book  was  a  key  book  for  you. 

Stewart:  Yes,  it  was,  and  I  wrote  most  of  that  book  in  Prance. 
You  see,  I  had  a  sabbatical  year  (June  1930-1931), 
and  I  squeezed  it  out  some  way  or  other  so  that  I 
was  able  to  take  the  family  to  Europe.   I  got  a  little 
break,  and  got  some  money  from  this  Army  disability. 
They  made  a  kind  of  payment,  and  that  was  enough.   I 
was  terribly  hard  up. 

Riess:    How  did  you  get  the  materials  to  work  on  it  in  Prance? 

Stewart:  I  took  them  along.  I'd  done  all  the  work  and  had  my 
notes.   I  had  worked  in  the  Huntington  Library  quite 
a  bit  on  that.  There's  quite  a  bit  of  material  there. 
Oh,  I  worked  around  a  great  deal  in  a  small  way.   I 

*George  R.  Stewart,  U.S.  *K).  Houghton  Mifflin,  1953- 


•    •'•  .        f. 


Stewart:   was  up  at  the  American  Antiquarian  Society,  and  I 

went  out  to  Springfield,  Massachusetts.  They  had  a 
file  at  the  Springfield  Republican  that  I  had  to 
use.  Things  were  harder  to  get  at  in  those  days. 
Now  there's  so  much  reproduction,  you  don't  have  to 
move  around  necessarily. 

Riess:    Sounds  like  that  would  be  expensive  too,  to  do  your 
own  research  and  have  to  get  yourself  places. 

Stewart:  Well,  of  course,  I  did  that  on  the  way  to  Europe. 
Riess:    Did  you  have  a  publisher? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  had  a  kind  of  contract  with  Houghton-Mifflin. 
No  commitment,  no  advance.  One  of  their  men  was  over 
in  France  Just  about  the  time  I  was  coming  home.   I 
had  the  book  all  done,  and  he  read  it,  and  they  gave 
me  a  contract  then.  So  I  didn't  actually  wait  around, 
although  they  pretty  near  failed  then.   It  was  when 
the  depression  was  Just  hitting.  They  wanted  to  put 
off  publication,  but  I  insisted  on  getting  it  published, 
After  all,  it  was  worth  a  lot  to  me  Just  to  publish  it, 
whether  it  sold  or  not.  It  didn't  sell.   It  was 
terrible  at  that  time.  But  at  least  I  got  it  on  my 

Riess:    Did  you  think  that  this  would  be  the  thing  that  would 
Jump  you  up  to  an  associate  professorship? 

Stewart:  Well,  it  should  have  been,  certainly.   I  already  had 
the  metrics  book  out,  and  several  articles,  scholarly 
articles.   I  had  plenty  of  work  as  far  as  the — well, 
a  lot  more  work  than  most  people  who  are  promoted  to 
associate  professor. 

Riess:    I  have  a  copy  of  a  letter  here  that  was  written  in 

1935  [April  15,  1935],  recommending  you  for  promotion 
signed  by  A.G.  Brodeur,  J.  Lowenberg,  J.H.  Hildebrand, 
S.G.  Morley,  J.S.P.  Tatlock,  M.C.  Flaherty;  and 
C.  Pasohall  is  the  chairman. 

Stewart:  I  never  saw  that  letter. 
Riess:    It's  very  impressive. 

Stewart:  Well,  those  letters  have  got  to  be  impressive.  That 
was  a  faculty  review  committee,  you  know.  Does  it 


Stewart:   say  I  was  recommended  by  the  department? 

Bless:    Yes.  It  says,  "His  teaching,  while  seemingly  not 

distinguished,  is  regarded  as  sound  and  satisfactory. 
He  has  assisted  in  administrative  work  conscientiously 
and  well,  where  it  has  been  asked  of  him,  both  in 
the  department  and  in  the  University  at  large.  He 
is  esteemed  and  liked  by  those  who  know  him  best, 
and  it  is  felt  that  he  is  a  man  who  will  continue  to 
grow  in  intellectual  and  scholarly  usefulness. 

"It  is  the  unanimous  recommendation  of  the 
committee  that  Professor  Stewart  be  promoted  to  an 
associate  professorship.  We  feel  that  promotion  in 
this  case  has  been  unduly  delayed,  and  that  it  should 
take  precedence  over  any  other  case  in  the  Department 
of  English." 

Stewart:  Well,  that's  handsome I   I  knew  some  of  those  people 
were  involved  in  my  promotion — of  course  I  wasn't 
promoted  at  that  time.   Let's  see.   Or  was  I?  Yes, 
I  guess  I  was. 

Morley  was  a  very  good  friend  of  mine.  I  knew 
he  supported  me.  He  told  me  he  was  on  two  of  my 
committees.  This  must  have  been  at  least  the  second 
time  I  was  up  before  a  committee.  Hildebrand's  a  man 
whom  I  see  frequently  now.   I  think  that's  probably 
the  first  time  he  ever  focussed  on  me.   I  don't  think 
he  knew  who  I  was  before  that  time.  And  of  course 
Tatlock  had  a  lot  of  respect  for  me  and  my  work.   I 
think  Brodeur  probably  did  too.  I  see  Brodeur 
occasionally  now.*  And  the  rest  of  those  men  I  think 
would  have  been  favorably  enough  disposed  toward  me. 
At  least  I  don't  think  I  had  any  enemies  in  that  group. 
Who  were  they  again,  now? 

Riess:    Well,  you  mentioned  them  all  except  for  this  name 
that  I  don't  know,  Paschall. 

Stewart:  Yes,  he  was  in  the  German  department.  I  knew  him 
slightly.   I  think  he  was  friendly  enough  to  me. 

Riess:    And  Martin  Flaherty. 

*Arthur  G.  Brodeur  may  actually  have  died  before  this 
time,  but  G.R.S.  had  not  heard  of  it. 


Stewart:  He  was  in  Speech.  I  don't  know  about  him. 

(As  I  have  stated  this,  it  sounds  as  if  I  had 
been  up  for  membership  in  a  club  or  something.  But 
when  I  put  it  that  a  man  was  friendly  to  me,  I  mean 
that  it  should  be  taken  in  a  professional  sense,  that 
is,  well-disposed  toward  my  work  in  the  University 
and  my  publication-record.) 

Stewart : 


Stewart : 


Did  you  come  across  a  letter  Gayley  wrote  for 

No.  Was  that  also  a  letter  for  promotion? 

No.  That  was  when  I  had  finished  my  graduate  work 
out  here  and  got  my  master's  degree.  He  wrote  me 
sort  of  a  general  letter  I  could  use  for  applying 
for  a  job.   Of  course,  they  are  always  laudatory, 
but  Gayley  wrote  a  particularly  nice  one.  I  gave 
that  to  Jim  Kantor  a  year  or  so  ago,  for  the 
University  archives. 

Oh,  I  figured  my  promotion  would  come  along 
sometime.  Eventually  I  had  what  they  call  "moral 
tenure."  I  had  been  around  so  long  that  I  couldn't 
very  easily  be  got  rid  of;  so  I  figured  it  would  come 
sometime.  I  did  think  that  it  wasn't  going  to  hurt 
me  to  try  something  else. 

It  was  important  to  you  to  be  teaching  and  be  connected 
with  a  university,  I  take  it,  because  otherwise,  why 
not  just  be  a  writer? 

Writing  is  too  financially  precarious,  for  one  thing. 
You  get  yourself  in  an  awful  trap.   Of  course  writing 
about  Bret  Harte  was  a  good  thing  for  me,  as  a  matter 
of  fact,   [laughing]  It  showed  me  what  a  trap  writing 
can  be.  He  was  a  prime  example  of  a  man  who  should 
never  have  cut  loose.  He  should  have  taken  that  job 
at  the  University  of  California  when  he  had  the  chance. 
That  would  have  changed  his  whole  life.  He  probably 
would  have  written  much  better,  and  had  a  much  better 
life  all  the  way  around. 

No,  writing  is — for  a  man  who  writes  as  I  do — 
writing  is  a  good  servant,  but  a  poor  master.  I  never 
have  had  the  real  touch  or  facility  of  writing  things 
that  people  buy  in  large  quantities.   I've  had  some 
books  that  have  sold  pretty  well,  but  not  many.  But 







I  did  go  on  half  time  at  the  University,  for  about 
ten  years. 

Benjamin  Lehman  said  he  didn't  know  how  you  could 
have  kept  going  here  under  the  Montgomery  atmosphere. 
What  did  he  mean? 

He  has  a  very  deep  mind,  Ben  Lehman.  I'd  hate  to 
try — I've  got  enough  trying  to  get  out  my  own  ideas 
here,  without  doing  anything  on  him. 

You  will  see  now  more  perhaps  why  I  said  in  my 
Autobiography  that  I  didn't  think  I'd  had  good  luck 
when  it  came  to  my  professional  career.   I've  had 
bad  breaks  on  that. 

But  some  of  them  turned  out  well. 

That's  because  I  turned  them  around  that  way.  I 
think  the  thing  about  Ben  Lehman — I  can  tell  you  an 
anecdote.. . 

I  was  walking  in  Wheeler  Hall  with  him  one  day 
when  he  was  chairman,  and  he  was  talking  about  some 
body  who  I  think  was  on  the  Junior  staff — you  know, 
Ben  was  always  interested  in  all  his  people.  He  said, 
"You  know,  of  course,  he  is  talented,  but  very 
neurotic,"  and  I  said,  "I  get  tired  of  so  many  of 
these  neurotic  people  around  here."  He  said,  "Oh, 
you're  Just  as  neurotic  as  any  of  them I "  I  said, 
"Yes,  but  I  make  my  neuroses  work  for  me."  I  think 
that's  a  quite  profound  statement.  I've  been  able  to 
chain  them  and  direct  them.   I  am  probably  as  neurotic 
as  the  next  man,  but  I  channel  it. 

I'm  very  curious  what  reactions  you  got  from 
Ben.  Anything  more  you  want  to  tell  me?  [laughing] 

He  said,  "George  Stewart  built  up  the  department  a 
great  deal  In  the  flat  years  of  Montgomery."  What 
did  he  mean  by  that? 

I  suppose  by  the  writing  I  did. 
else  much. 

I  think  not  anything 

And  he  said  it  was  amazing  that  you  could  keep  going 
in  the  Montgomery  atmosphere.   In  his  interview  he 



Rless:    talked  a  lot  about  Montgomery.* 

Stewart:  He  probably  knew  a  lot  more  about  it  than  I  did,  as 
a  matter  of  fact.  He  was  in  a  better  position  to 
know.  He  was  a  full  professor  at  that  time.   Of 
course  he  was  one  of  the  ones  whom  I  criticized  in 
my  department  book  because  they  didn't  do  more  about 

Ben  withdrew  considerably  at  that  time.  He 
really  stopped  writing  in  there  entirely.  His  great 
contribution  to  the  University  was  as  department 
chairman,  and  as  a  presidential  adviser. 

Bless:    You  wrote  an  amazing  number  of  articles  too.  When 

you  have  an  idea  do  you  Just  like  to  work  it  through 
on  paper? 

Stewart:  A  few  of  them  were  compulsive.    I  get  to  thinking 
about  something  and  I  think  about  it  for  years,  and 
finally  I  have  to  do  it.  Others  were  Just  things  of 
opportunity.  Each  was  something  that  was  nice  to 
work  at,  and  it  might  help  with  promotion  if  you 
were  going  to  be  promoted  at  all.  Then  of  course 
when  I  got  to  writing  the  books  I  didn't  do  so  much 
in  the  way  of  articles,  except  I  got  into  that  work 
in  Names .  and  they  needed  articles.  I  did  some  because 
it  was  good  for  the  journal.  And  I  did  others  that 
way  too. 

The  articles  sprang  from  all  sorts  of  motivations. 
There  are  not  nearly  as  many  as  many  people  have 
written,  because  I  did  so  much  in  the  way  of  books, 
too.   I  think  they're  more  remarkable  for  the  range 
of  interest  they  show.  Also  certain  themes  keep 
coming  out  from  a  long  way  back,  like  the  one  I  did 
on  the  stream  forks  in  the  Sierra  Nevada,  which  was 
an  early  place-name  study,  which  comes  a  long  time 
before  Names  on  the  Land. 

You  see — anything  I  got  an  interest  in,  say  from 
teaching,  I  tended  to  see  in  it  something  that  could 
be  written.  There's  even  an  article  on  Shakespeare 
in  there,  you  know,  a  little  note  on  Shakespeare,  and 

*Benjamin  H.  Lehman,  Recollections  and  Reminiscences 
of  Life  in  the  Bay  Area  from  1920  Onward.  Regional 
Oral  History  Office,  Berkeley,  1969. 


Stewart:  one  on  Malory.  And  Chaucer  of  course  too.  I  once 
figured  out — somebody  asked  me  about  this,  and  I 
figured  out  I  had  published  something  on  every 
century  of  English  literature  from  the  l^th  on  down. 

Riess:    When  you  were  working  on  the  articles,  would  you 

discuss  them?  Would  you  work  through  the  ideas  by 
talking  to  somebody? 

Stewart:  Oh  yes.  I  often  talked  to  people  about  them.  I 
don't  find  that  that  usually  amounts  to  so  much. 
People  don't  usually  have  any  very  great  contribution 
to  make,  because  they  don't  know  enough  about  the 
subject.  You're  talking  to  them  about  something  on 
which  you  know  a  great  deal,  and  they  only  have  a 
general  idea.   Oh  yes,  I've  talked  to  lots  of  people 
about  all  sorts  of  things.  I  don't  remember  getting 
too  much  out  of  it  that  way,  except  with  Storm  and 

Riess:    I  was  thinking  also  of  the  sort  of  competitive  sense- 
like  scientists  when  they  come  on  to  some  discovery 
will  quickly  write  it  up.  I  wondered  if  that  goes 
on  in  an  English  department,  or  in  a  humanities 

Stewart:  I  don't  think  it  does,  no.   I  don't  know  how  much  it 
goes  on  in  science  actually.  Of  course  you  hear 
about  it.   It's  the  folklore  of  science,  about  these 
things  always  being  discovered  at  the  same  time,  and 
somebody  rushing  into  print.   I  don't  know  actually 
how  often  that  happens.  At  least  in  my  time  in 
English  studies,  I  don't  remember  any  time  that  I 
got  involved  in  that.   I  can't  think  of  anything. 


It  sometimes  happens,  of  course.  Now — oh,  it 
didn't  really  happen  in  this  case  but  Jim  Hart  was 
much  perturbed  because  this  man  in  Iowa  brought  out 
a  study  of  the  popular  literature  in  the  United 
States  Just  at  the  time  Jim  was  about  finished  with 
his  Popular  Book.*  But  actually  the  two  things 

*James  David  Hart,  The  Popular  Book,  A  History  of 
America's  Literary  Taste,  New  York,  Oxford  University 
Press,  1950. 



Stewart:  didn't  coincide  too  much.   I  don't  know  quite  why 

that  is,  but  you  don't  find  too  many  examples  of  it 
happening.  At  least  you  didn't.  I  think  it  may  now, 
because  there  are  so  many  more  people  working  on 
things.  There's  Just  that  much  more  chance  for  some 
kind  of  coincidence. 

Riess:    The  number  of  ideas  you  took  up,  it  seemed  as  if 

you  were  hounded  by  the  intellectual  dogs,  or  some 
thing  like  that. 

Stewart:  Oh,  I  think  I  was,  in  a  sense.  Yes.   I  had  a  certain 
amount  of  compulsion  I  suppose.  That  article  on 
Melville,  for  Instance,  is  one  of  the  best  things  I 
ever  did.  I  had  that  in  my  mind  for  about  ten  years. 
I  kept  thinking  about  this  and  that.   I  tried  to  get 
some  other  person  to  write  it.  I  didn't  want  to 
write  it I   [laughing]  They'd  talk  to  me  and  say, 
"That's  certainly  a  good  idea,  yes.  Why  don't  you 
write  it?"  But  I  never  did  it,  never  got  around  to 
it.  Finally  I  got  that  graduate  course  in  which  the 
whole  idea  was  that  I  was  going  to  make  the  students 
work  on  one  particular  project  for  half  the  course. 
That  worked  out  very  well,  that  course.   It  resulted 
in  several  publications. 

The  first  year,  I  threw  this  Melville  idea  into 
the  pot,  and  I  got  something  out  of  the  students.  Of 
course  it  was  still  my  article  all  right,  and  I 
finally  published  it  after  all  those  years. 

Riess:    I  guess  that  would  have  been  one  of  the  great  things 
that  graduate  students  could  do. 

Stewart:  Well,  there's  a  certain  amount  of  criticism  on  that, 
about  professors  exploiting  their  students.  But  I 
think  that's  a  lot  of  hooey  really,  in  most  instances. 
In  science  particularly.   I  think  if  a  graduate 
student  publishes  something  along  with  the  professor, 
that's  fine  for  him.  That  gives  him  the  gratification, 
and  starts  him  off.  I  know  I've  had  reports  back 
occasionally  from  students  who  were  in  that  course. 
They're  very  proud  of  this,  you  know.  I  mentioned  all 
of  them  in  the  footnote.  They  think  this  is  wonderful. 

I  did  one  article  in  collaboration  with  a  student 
(Joseph  E.  Backus)  out  of  that  course.  That  was  very 
Interesting  and  it  worked  out  well.   It  makes  a  nice 



Stewart:  bond.  He's  the  only  person  I  ever  collaborated  with 
on  that  kind  of  thing.   I  see  him  occasionally. 
He's  teaching  at  the  University  of  Hawaii  now.  A 
nice  thing  to  have  both  of  us  together  on  it. 

Another  student  I  was  working  on  something  with 
ran  away  with  the  ball,  and  that  was  fine.  He 
(Hungerford)  did  so  much  work  that  I  lost  track  of 
what  was  happening.  I  said,  "I  can't  sign  this. 
You've  really  done  the  work,  so  you  sign  it."  There 
was  a  lot  of  my  stuff  in  it,  but  he  put  it  under  his 
own  name.   I  said,  "I  can't  sign  this  without  going 
over  all  that  stuff,  and  I  don't  want  to  take  the 
time . " 

Riess:  In  the  notes  for  Ordeal  by  Hunger — there  does  seem 
to  be  somebody  working  with  you  and  doing  a  lot  of 
reading  of  letters  and  giving  you  kind  of  synopses. 

Stewart:   It  might  have  been  Paul  Johnson.  He's  still  hereabouts, 
He  Just  published  a  book,  a  pictorial  history  of 
California.  It's  had  a  pretty  good  run,  I  think.  He 
worked  for  Sunset  for  many  years.   I  see  him  once  in 
a  while. 

Riess:    How  did  you  two  get  together  on  Ordeal  by  Hunger? 

Stewart:  He  was  on  a  student  help  project  they  had  during  the 

New  Deal,  a  thing  for  students  to  make  a  little  money. 
He  was  very  good.  He  worked  for  me  quite  a  little 
bit.   I  don't  remember  him  on  Ordeal  by  Hunger 
particularly,  but  that  was  the  period. 

Riess:    How  did  you  get  him? 

Stewart:  Oh,  I  don't  remember  exactly,  but  if  you  had  a  topic 
they  could  work  on,  well,  more  or  less  what  you  were 
supposed  to  do  was  give  these  students  a  chance  to 
help  themselves.   I  suppose  he  came  in  and  applied 
for  a  Job,  and  this  was  something  he  could  do.  Often, 
of  course,  you  had  them  working  on  things  that  didn't 
amount  to  too  much.  The  idea  was  that  if  they  could 
make  a  little  bit  of  money,  why,  you  didn't  worry 
too  much  if  what  they  were  turning  up  wasn't  of  much 
Importance.  But  he  was  a  good  man.  He  has  had  quite 
a  distinguished  record  really,  since  then. 

I  had  a  whole  WPA  project  going  there  for  a 
while.   It's  still  all  in  the  library,  the  stuff  they 




Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 


collected.*  They  had  about  ten  people  working  on 

On  what? 

I  had  them  collecting  reviews  on  Western  "books  out 
of  the  Journals.   It's  still  a  potentially  useful 
thing  they  did.  A  big  file,  of  every  kind  of  book 
that  had  to  do  with  the  West.  They  would  find 
reviews  on  it. 


That  was  thirty  years  ago.  There  weren't  so  many 
books.  They  went  through  journals  in  the  library, 
and  collected  all  the  reviews  that  had  to  do  with 
Western  books.   It  was  fine.   It's  something  they 
ought  to  be  doing  these  days,  you  know,  with  the  do- 
nothing  administration  we  have  now.  Back  in  the  New 
Deal  they  really  made  Jobs  for  workers.  That's  what 
they  should  be  doing  right  now. 

I  had  a  man  running  the  thing,  a  graduate  student 
of  history  whom  I'd  known.  He  was  down  and  out  too. 
It  was  one  of  the  best  Jobs  he'd  held  in  a  long  time. 
Then  there  were  about  ten  people  who  were  all  down 
and  out.  They  had  some  education.  They  could  read 
and  write,  that  was  about  all.  They  weren't  what 
you'd  call  research  assistants.  They  could  do  this 
kind  of  thing.  They  made  some  mistakes  of  course. 
They'd  get  books  In  that  weren't  really — didn't 
really  deal  with  the  West,  they  Just  thought  they 
did.  That  doesn't  do  any  harm. 

Then  did  you  have  to  check  it  all,  or  did  you  have 
to  pass  on  the  whole  thing? 

No,  I  didn't  have  to.  This  graduate  student  was  a 
kind  of  director  of  it.  He'd  throw  some  of  the  stuff 
out  that  obviously  shouldn't  be  there.  I,  at  that 
time,  had  the  idea  of  doing  kind  of  a  big  history  of 
Western  literature.   I  gave  it  up  after  I  got  to 
writing  novels,  so  I  never  even  used  this.  It  would 
have  been  very  useful.   I  gave  it  to  the  library, 

* Filed  under  George  Stewart,  author,  in  The  Bancroft 
Library,  University  of  California,  Berkeley. 



Stewart:  and  It  may  have  been  used  a  good  many  times.   I 

don't  know  how  much  it's  known  about.  It  never  was 
put  in  shape  really,  but  it's  there. 

Riess:    How  were  the  depression  years  for  you? 

Stewart:  The  depression  years  were  not  particularly  hard  for 
us,  because  the  prices  were  very  much  lower.  We 
were  Just  as  hard  up  in  the  twenties  as  we  were 
during  the  depression!   In  fact  I  was  very  hard  up 
always  until  Storm  hit  the  Jackpot  there,  with  the 
Book  of  the  Month  Club.  That  really  put  me  over  the 
hump  financially. 

Riess:    Was  your  wife  working? 

Stewart:  She  worked  a  little.  Not  very  much.  She  gradually 
got  her  training,  and  she  went  into  social  work,  you 
know..  But  when  the  children  were  small  she  couldn't 
do  much.   In  her  middle  thirties  she  started  taking 
graduate  work  in  social  welfare.  It  was  pretty  slow. 
She  couldn't  get  much  of  it  in  at  a  time.  Eventually 
she  got  her  master's  in  social  work,  and  she  worked 
for  a  good  many  years. 

Riess:    Where  did  you  first  live  when  you  came  here  from 
Michigan  and  you  were  married? 

Stewart:  We  lived  in  a  tiny  place  up  on  Canyon  Road,  right  up 
above  the  stadium.  We  lived  there  for  only  a  year, 
though,  because  we  were  going  to  have  a  baby  and  we 
didn't  have  much  room  there.  So  we  moved  into  a 
little  apartment  in  an  old  building  on  La  Loma.  We 
were  there  for  a  year,  and  we  moved  to  another  place 
down  on  Hilgard  for  a  year.  Then,  Mrs.  Stewart's 
mother  had  an  idea — she  was  a  widow  then — she  wanted 
to  come  live  in  Berkeley  and  get  a  house  that  had 
an  apartment  underneath  where  she  could  live.  So 
she  bought  a  house  on  Hill  Court  and  we  lived  there 
for  three  years. 






Stewart:       In  those  years  we  moved  a  lot.  We  came  back 
from  Europe  and  went  up  to  the  top  of  Virginia 
Street  and  lived  In  two  different  houses  up  there 
about  a  year  apiece.  We  always  had  some  good  reason 
for  moving.  By  that  time  the  children  were  getting 
to  be  four  and  six.  This  was  the  very  depths  of  the 
depression,  and  we  bought  a  house  out  on  San  Luis 
Road  in  193^  for  $3^00.  It  was  a  terrible  place. 
We  borrowed  all  the  money  we  could  get  together, 
mortgaged  the  house,  and  got  a  veteran's  loan.  I 
think  we  raised  about  $4000  more  and  remodeled  the 
house,  and  made  quite  a  nice  Job  of  it. 

We  lived  there  for  sixteen  years.  That  was 
really  a  very  lucky  house.  The  children  grew  up 
there  and  I  became  a  writer  and  full  professor  and 
everything  else.  Then  we  sold  that  house,  and  built 
the  house  up  on  Cordon! ces  Road  where  we  lived  until 
we  came  over  here.  We  lived  nineteen  years  in  that 
house.  That's  our  history  of  houses.  That  house 
on  San  Luis  always  pleases  me,  because  I  can  still 
go  out  there  and  see  the  pine  trees  I  planted,  which 
are  up  over  the  top  of  the  house.  And  there  is  lots 
of  stuff  there  that  I  still  can  see  I  did. 

In  a  way  the  most  discouraging  years  were  the 
first  two  years  we  were  on  San  Luis  Road,  because 
that  was  the  depression  and  that  was  the  time  of 
the  Montgomery  department,  and  not  getting  anywhere 
in  the  department,  and  all  that.  But  from  19 36,  with 
Ordeal  by  Hunger  and  my  promotion,  things  moved. 

Riess:    In  the  beginning,  when  you  had  children  and  the 

children  were  young,  did  you  have  a  sort  of  "take  it 
or  leave  it"  feeling?  or  was  everything  really  tied 
up  with  this  University  for  you? 

Stewart:  No,  I  wasn't  committed  to  this  University  particularly, 
but  of  course  it  was  the  only  Job  I  had.   [laughing] 
So  I  was  tied  up  in  that  way.   I  don't  know.   I  was 
in  a  fairly  confused  state  during  those  years  when 
my  children  were  little,  but  I  think  it's  a  very 
trying  time  in  many  ways.   It's  a  completely  new 
experience.  It's  a  rather  difficult  thing.  You 
probably  know  all  about  that  I  And  of  course  at  that 
stage  it  looks  like  forever,  but  actually  it's  a 
very  short  period,  if  you  have  a  moderate  number  of 
children.  They  grow  up  so  fast  that  somehow  it  isn't 


Stewart:  your  whole  life  after  all,  but  it  seems  that  way  at 
the  time.   In  the  old  days,  if  you  had  ten  children, 
it  was  your  whole  life  then! 

Riess:    For  you,  how  do  you  measure  the  success  of  your 
books,  or  a  book? 

Stewart:  You  measure  it  by  the  quality  and  the  number  of  your 
readers  I  think,  more  than  anything  else.  That  of 
course  is  reflected  in  the  sales  also,  at  least  the 
quantity  is.  Not  by  the  reviews  as  much  as  a  lot  of 
people  would  think.   I  got  cynical  about  reviews. 
Most  of  them  are  hurriedly  done,  and  rather  stupid 
things.  I  don't  really  pay  much  attention  to  reviews 
anymore.  I  think  what  I  appreciate  most  is  a  really 
good  appreciation  and  even  criticism  of  the  book  by 
somebody  for  whom  I  have  considerable  respect. 

Riess:    Not  a  reviewer? 

Stewart:  Well,  he  might  be  a  reviewer,  yes.  There  are  good 

reviewers  too.   Of  course  anybody's  likely  to  review 
a  book.  Out  of  a  lot  of  reviews  you'll  get  some 
very  good  ones  and  some  that  you  are  very  pleased 
with.  There  were  a  tremendous  number  of  reviews  of 
the  American  Place  Names  book.  They  must  have  Just 
showered  review  copies  out  everywhere.  Some  of  them 
are  really  very  fine,  very  appreciative. 

Riess:    Do  you  have  any  control  over  who  the  review  copies 
go  to? 

Stewart:  Almost  none.   I  don't  try  to  do  that.  Of  course 

sometimes  the  publisher  will  ask  you  for  some  advice, 
but  not  generally.   I  can't  remember  more  than  one 
or  two  times  when  I  ever  really  tried  to  get  a 
reviewer  spotted  for  a  book. 

I  think  the  quality  of  reviewing  has  deteriorated 
in  my  time  as  a  writer.  Maybe  my  point  of  view  has 
changed,  but  I  think  the  quality  of  reviewing,  both 


Stewart : 



Stewart : 

quantitatively  and  qualitatively,  has  declined. 
There  are  not  as  many  reviews  ordinarily. 

And  the  book  publishing  companies  have  got 
awfully  big,  you  know.   There's  very  little  personal 
touch,  I  should  judge.   Of  course  I  can't  go  entirely 
by  my  own  experience. 

There's  almost  no  good  editing  done.  There  were 
the  famous  old  editors,  like  Maxwell  Perkins,  and 
like — well,  Saxe  Commins,  whom  I  worked  with  some, 
though  he  never  did  so  much  for  me.  But  he  was  a 
very  fine  editor,  and  he  had  a  sense  of  warm, 
personal  contact  which  means  a  good  deal. 

Looking  at  your  fan  mail  in  Bancroft  Library,  I  had 
the  feeling  that  your  books  really  spoke  to  your 
readers.   Did  those  letters  peter  out  as  the  years 
went  by? 

Certainly  for  me,  but  that  wouldn't  mean  anything, 
as  I  haven't  been  writing  as  popular  books.  So 
I  wouldn't  say  that  that  means  much  generally.  I 
don't  know  how  other  authors  would  feel  about  that, 
whether  the  readers  write  very  much  to  them.   I  think 
it's  an  important  link,  really. 

I  remember  I  talked  with  a  psychologist,  a  UCLA 
man,  once,  who  was  Interested  in  that  more  or  less. 
He  called  it  feedback.  He  said  it  was  a  very 
important  source  of  feedback  to  a  writer,  because 
a  writer  is  likely  to  get  the  feeling  that  he's 
writing  in  a  vacuum,  and  these  things  helped  me 

Or  that  he  is  writing  for  reviewers. 

Or  that  he  is  Just  writing  for  money.  At  least  that 
would  be  one  kind  of  feedback.  Money  is  a  kind  of 
feedback,   [laughing]   I  mean,  you  know  that  something 
is  happening  anyway  if  you  have  a  big  sale.  But 
it's  also  important  to  have  the  other  thing. 

The  phenomenon  of  fan  mail  is  something  that  I 
think  has  never  been  studied  very  much.  Do  you  know 
anything  on  that,  for  instance? 


No.  I  Just  read  yours. 
into  these  letters. 

People  put  so  much  feeling 


Stewart:  Tremendous  at  times.  Yes.  I  think  the  phenomenon 
of  fan  mail  ought  to  be  studied,  because  I  think 
it's  an  important  phase  of  literary  history.   I'm 
not  speaking  Just  of  what  you  get  from  writing 
books.  What  kind  of  books,  for  instance,  inspire 
fan  mail?  Because  obviously  a  controversial  book 
will  bring  out  more  of  it  than  anything  else.  I've 
got  the  most  letters  of  any  book  on  Man,  largely 
because  it  irritated  a  lot  of  religious  people,  and 
they  wrote  letters. 

A  book  which  is  controversial  will  bring  out 
more,  and  I  think  also  it's  probably  proportional  to 
the  number  of  copies  circulated.  The  more  circulated, 
why,  the  more  letters  you  get  back  I  suppose.  Did 
you  get  that  impression  in  particular  books  that  you 

Riess:    Well,  I've  only  got  up  really  through  the  fan  mail 

on  Storm.   I  think  often  It  wasn't  so  much  a  response 
to  a  particular  book,  but  it  was  the  kind  of  person 
who  wrote  a  letter,  and  for  them  it  was  really  a  very 
meaningful  experience,  period. 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  think  it  means  a  good  deal,  because  the 

ordinary  person  doesn't  break  down  to  write  a  letter 
very  easily.  For  every  one  that  writes  a  letter 
there  must  be  a  dozen  who  say,  "Well,  I  think  I'll 
write  a  letter,"  but  who  don't  get  around  to  it. 

Riess:    Maybe  the  average  person  who  writes  a  letter  wants 
to  communicate  in  a  give-and-take  way.  Yet,  when 
you  write  to  an  author  you  don't  expect  that.  So 
it's  a  special  kind  of  letter. 

Stewart:   I  think  that  most  people  have  the  hope  that  they'll 
hear  from  the  author.  They  usually  give  their 
return  address,  I  notice.  I've  acknowledged 
practically  all  of  my  letters.  I  don't  write  very 
much,  but  I  have  acknowledged  them.  Every  now  and 
then  I've  heard  back  in  some  other  way  how  pleased 
the  person  was.  So  I  think  it's  a  nice  thing  to  do. 
If  you  had  too  many  of  them  you  couldn't  do  it. 
Storm  had  a  lot,  and  I  had  a  girl  work  for  me  as 
secretary  then.   I  acknowledged  a  lot  of  them  Just 
through  her.  Occasionally  there's  one  I  don't  like, 
and  I  won't  answer  it.   [laughter]  You  know  people 
try  to  show  off.  They  aren't  really  interested  in 


Stewart:  the  book  so  much;  they're  Just  interested  In  them 
selves.  Those  I  sometimes  don't  answer. 

Earth  Abides  was  the  book  that  inspired  almost 
fierce  loyalty.   I  think  when  you  hit  those  letters 
you'll  see  the  difference.  I  never  got  very  many 
adverse  letters,  but  I  think  that's  natural  because 
if  people  don't  like  a  book  they're  not  apt  to  write 
a  letter  about  it.  They'll  probably  be  bored  by  it, 
and  the  last  thing  they'll  want  to  do  is  write  a 
letter.  So,  I  don't  think  the  fact  that  nearly  all 
the  letters  are  complimentary  means  too  much.  Unless, 
as  I  say,  you've  got  a  controversial  subject,  and  so 
they  get  mad  about  something. 

Riess:    It  does  Indicate  that  they  were  somehow  the  old  days 
of  the  book,  when  a  book  wasn't  Just  picked  up  and 
put  down  between  television  programs. 

Stewart:  It  meant  more  to  people  on  the  whole,  I  think,  yes. 
I  haven't  got  very  many  letters,  not  nearly  as  many 
as  I  expected  on  this  Place  Names  book,  because  that's 
the  kind  of  book  that  rather  tends  to  inspire  letters. 
They  send  in  for  more  information,  and  that  kind  of 
thing.  But  I  didn't  get  as  many  out  of  that  as  I 

Riess:    I  noticed  a  lot  of  that  from  Names  on  the  Land. 
Stewart:  Yes.  That  was  pretty  heavy. 

Riess:    Did  you  put  in  a  request  at  the  end  of  that  book  that 
if  people  knew  anything— 

Stewart:   I  did  in  one  of  the  later  printings.  I  don't  think 
I  did  in  the  first  printing.  That's  a  dangerous 
thing  to  do.  You  can't  tell  what  you're  going  to 
get.  You  more  or  less  obligate  yourself  to  answer, 
if  you  do  that. 

Riess:    I  was  wondering  how  well  protected  against  reactions, 
adverse  or  otherwise,  you  were  after  a  book  hit  the 
bookstores.  Did  you  tend  to  immerse  yourself  in  the 
next  book,  or  did  you  wait  around  for  the  public 

Stewart:  By  the  time  a  book  came  out  I  was  usually  well  along 
in  the  next  one.  There's  a  considerable  time  lag  in 


Stewart:  there.  Unless  you  want  to  sit  around  for  about  a  year, 
there's  no  use  waiting  till  the  book  comes  out.  Some 
people  do,  of  course.  People  have  all  sorts  of 
different  habits,  but  I  was  always  hot  on  the  trail 
of  the  next  book.  I'd  be  well  along.  I  rather  lost 
interest  in  the  book  by  the  time  it  was  published, 
half  the  time. 

Rless:    I  wondered  whether  you  would  lose  interest;  not  only 
that,  but  whether  it  was  really  somehow  part  of  your 
past  already,  so  that  you  weren't  even  involved 

Stewart:  Well,  I  wouldn't  put  It  as  strong  as  that.  You're 

interested  In  the  book  still,  but  you're  moving  ahead 
to  the  next  book.  At  least  I  always  was.  That  could 
be  checked  out  very  easily  by — well,  by  the  data 
(diary  of  events)  you  have  there,  for  instance,  you 
could  tell  when  the  book  was  published,  and  how  far 
along  I  was  in  the  next  book  by  that  time. 

When  I  finished  East  of  the  Giants,  when  I  was 
down  In  Mexico  that  spring,  I  didn't  have  much  else 
to  do  down  there,  I  was  living  a  very  quiet,  pleasant 
life.  So  I  started  Doctor's  Oral  right  away.  I  had 
about  a  third  of  it  written  before  I  left  Mexico  that 
spring.  But  that  was  a  very  short  book. 

Rless:    And  then  even  down  there  you  had  the  idea  for  Storm « 
I  gather. 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  did,  although  I  was  still  holding  it  as 

something  for  the  not  too  immediate  future.  Then  I 
finished  Doctor's  Oral.  Then  I  was  playing  around 
with  an  idea  of  another  book  on  the  West,  and  a  novel. 
I  got  to  thinking  more  about  Storm.  I  was  going  to 
write  this  Western  book  first  and  then  write  Storm. 
and  the  Western  book  didn't  seem  too  interesting  to 
me,  so  I  thought  why  not  Just  drop  it  completely 
and  go  ahead  with  this  idea  on  Storm.  So  that's  the 
way  I  did  that.   I  had  a  slight  gap  in  there,  but  not 

Hi ess:  At  this  point  were  you  in  contact  with  Holt,  or 
whoever  your  publishers  were,  so  that  they  were 
pushing  for  work  from  you? 

Stewart:  Well,  you  see,  Holt  had  a  difficult  time  Just  about 
then.  They,  I  think,  got  into  financial  trouble  and 

Stewart : 

Stewart:  had  administrative  troubles.  Anyway,  thatfs  when  I 
shifted  to  Random  House.  Holt  did  get  a  reorganiza 
tion  and  they  tried  very  hard  to  get  me  to  give  them 
Doctor's  Oral  but  I  had  agents  then,  and  they  didn't 
want  to  deal  with  Holt  because  Holt  was  in  too 
uncertain  a  position.  So  I  went  over  to  Random  House. 

How  did  you  get  hooked  up  with  your  agent? 

I  think  it  was  through  Joe  Jackson,  Joseph  Henry 
Jackson.  He  was  a  very  close  friend  of  John 
Steinbeck's.  These  people  were  John  Steinbeck's 
agents.  I  knew  John  too.   It  was  through  that  general 
connection  that  I  tied  up  with  Mclntosh  and  Otis. 

Riess:    And  with  Annie  Laurie  Williams  also? 

Stewart:  She  was  tied  up  with  them,  yes.  She  split  off  a  long 
time  ago.  They  had  their  offices  in  the  same  building. 

I  had  a  letter  from  her  just  this  morning,  or 
rather  from  her  sister,  because  she's  getting  old. 
She's  finally  giving  up  her  office.   It's  a  little 
embarrassing  to  me.  I  won't  probably  have  much  more 
work  of  that  kind,  but  she  kept  hanging  on,  you  know. 
She  would  do  her  work  from  her  room  in  the  hotel,  that 
sort  of  thing.  That's  not  good,  when  a  person  gets 
too  old. 

Riess:    You  mean  it's  better  for  her  to  Just  sever  connections 

Stewart:   I  think  when  people  get  that  old  they  should  quit, 

retire,  and  make  some  arrangement  for  their  writers. 
Wouldn't  you  think  so?  I  suppose  some  people,  like 
her,  Just  never  feel  they're  ready  to  retire. 

Riess:    Maybe  she  has  some  other  person  in  the  office  who 
in  fact  actually  does  the  things? 

Stewart:  Well,  that's  been  the  way  it  is,  but  now  she's 

giving  up  the  office  entirely.  As  I  say,  she  didn't 
even  write  me  this  letter  this  morning.  Actually, 
they  sold  an  option  to  Earth  Abides  and  they  sent  me 
a  check  for  that.  It  didn't  amount  to  much,  but  it 
will  be  something  if  they  sell  it.  But  I've  had 
difficulty  dealing  with  her,  because  she  Just  wasn't 
at  the  point  where  she  was  answering  letters  very 

Riess:    She  got  in  her  share  in  the  early  days. 

Stewart:  She  was  a  very  nice  person,  a  crazy  kind  of  person, 
but  very  warm-hearted.  And  very  efficient  in  her 
day,  too.  Everybody  knew  her.  She  was  a  figure  in 
show  business  in  New  York. 

Riess:    Was  it  with  any  kind  of  reluctance  that  you  went  big 
time  with  the  agents  and  everything? 

Stewart:   I  don't  think  you  could  say  I  was  very  big  time.   I 
thought  it  was  a  very  good  idea  at  the  time.   I  was 
very  glad  to  do  it.   It  does  make  you  feel  a  little 
more  important  to  have  an  agent.   I  got  sick  of  it 
after  a  while.   I  gave  up  the  agent  after  about  eight 

Riess:    I  can  see  why  you  might  have  needed  one  to  guide  you 
through  the  intricacies  of  the  rights  to  Storm  and 

Stewart:  Well,  you  need  an  agent  for  that.  That's  pretty 

technical  work.   I  wouldn't  want  to  get  involved  with 
motion-picture  contracts  without  an  agent.  In  fact 
you  need  one  for  foreign  rights.  A.  D.  Peters  in 
London  handles  those.  And  I've  had  Annie  Laurie  to 
handle  all  the  subsidiary  rights.  The  actual  book 
rights  I  handle  myself,  ever  since — Fire  was  the 
first  book  I  took  back,  so  they  handled  about  four 
or  five  books  actually,  two  of  which  I  have  taken 
back.  I  told  them  I  didn't  see  any  point  in  their 
handling  these  any  more.  Anything  you'd  sell  would 
be  very  small. 

There  ought  to  be  a  termination  contract  on  agents, 
Actually  most  agents  work  without  any  contract  at  all, 
so  I  suppose  you  can  take  the  thing  away  from  them. 
You  can  break  your  relationship  any  time  you  want. 

Riess:    That's  harder  than  breaking  a  contract,  isn't  it? 

Stewart:  Well,  not  necessarily.  As  far  as  the  book  is  con 
cerned,  they  do  have  a  contract  on  that.  It's  very 
irritating.  You  see,  they've  been  drawing  royalties 
on  Storm  now  for  25  years  without  really  doing 
anything  at  all. 




Stewart:       Publishers'  contracts  have  a  termination  clause. 

If  they  don't  keep  the  book  In  print,  you  can  terminate 
the  contract.  Of  course,  they  won't  keep  a  book  In 
print  unless  It's  paying  pretty  well,  so  you  can 
usually  exercise  those  clauses  if  you  want  to. 

Let  me  tell  you  a  little  more  about  the  agent 
while  I'm  at  it,  that  is,  my  experience  of  what  an 
agent  can  do,  and  what  they  can't  do.  It's  never 
been  particularly  gratifying  to  me.  They  arranged 
my  contract  with  Random  House  to  begin  with,  and  I 
kept  with  Random  House  for  more  than  fifteen  years. 
But  an  agent  is  a  third  party,  who  is  a  nuisance  In 
some  ways,  at  least  it  was  in  those  days.  I  think  it 
still  is,  from  what  I  hear.   Instead  of  negotiating 
directly  with  the  publisher — you  do  to  some  extent — 
yet  at  the  same  time  the  agent  is  in  on  it  and  it 
gets  to  be  a  nuisance.   It's  Just  another  party.  And 
of  course  they  take  their  ten  percent  which  they  don't 
seem  to  earn  very  much,  to  me.  And  you  have  to  keep 
accounts  on  them  too.  The  accounting  I  thought  they 
were  very  bad  at,  generally.  I  couldn't  get  my  agents' 
accounts  to  agree  with  my  publisher's  accounts.  That 
used  to  irritate  me  no  end.   I  thought  they  ought  at 
least  to  be  able  to  keep  accounts. 

Of  course,  I  didn't  want  agents  stirring  up 
business  for  me.   I'd  rather  supply  my  own  business. 

Hiess:    You  mean  stirring  up  requests  for  you  to  write  a  book 
on  a  subject? 

Stewart:  That,  or  magazine  articles. 

Riess:    That's  the  role  I  think  of  with  them,  the  hard  sell. 
Working  up  some  business. 

Stewart:  Well,  maybe  they  didn't  do  that  with  me  because  they 
didn't  think  it  was  suitable  for  me,  and  I  wouldn't 
do  it  well,  I  know.  Maybe  with  other  writers  they 
would  do  better.  But  anyway,  I  just  couldn't  see  what 
they  were  accomplishing.  In  some  ways  I'm  sorry  now, 
because  as  I'm  getting  older,  it  looks  as  if  it  might 
be  a  good  idea  to  have  somebody  taking  care  of  all  the 
details,  but  my  experience  was  that  they  didn't  take 
care  of  them.  I  couldn't  see  why  I  was  having  an 
agent,  half  the  time. 

Riess:    It  was  Just  one  more  person  for  you  to  look  out  for, 

Stewart :  Yes . 

Riess:    There  was  a  time  in  the  correspondence  from  Annie 

Laurie  to  you  where  I  really  felt  "agent"  in  the  old 
sense  of  the  word,  when  she  described  the  battle  that 
she  and  Bennett  Cerf  had  had  selling  Storm  to 
Paramount . 

Stewart:  Yes.   [laughing]  I  remember  that  letter. 

You  recall  I  spoke  about  bad  luck  in  my 
professional  life?  Storm  was  a  good  example.  It 
was  published  Just  before  Pearl  Harbor.  We  had  some 
thing  like  seven  motion  picture  companies  interested 
in  it,  about  all  there  are,  and  then,  of  course,  when 
Pearl  Harbor  came,  they  all  dropped  it  immediately. 
Eventually  Paramount  came  back  and  picked  it  up.  Of 
course  they  took  it  very  cheaply.  You  probably  saw 
the  figures  there.  $20,000.  Yes.  It  would  have  gone 
for  a  lot  more  than  that  with  some  bidding. 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 


And  then  was  it  made  as  a  movie? 

It  was  made  as  a  Walt  Disney  verson,  which  is  not  too 
bad.  Paramount  sold  it  at  some  time  to  Disney 
apparently.  You  see,  you  lose  all  your  rights  when 
you  make  a  moving  picture  sale  like  that.  You're 
completely  out  as  far  as  the  motion  picture  industry 
is  concerned.  I  never  paid  much  attention  to  what 
was  happening  to  it. 

Oh,  I  did  for  a  while.  They  had  a  lot  of  activity 
for  a  while,  but  they  didn't  get  anywhere  on  it. 

What's  the  Authors'  Guild?  What  did  it  do  for  you? 

Well,  it  never  did  anything  for  me.   I  finally  quit 
it.  It  never  really  got  to  be  very  strong.  I  got 
tired  of  it. 

What  kind  of  powers  does  it  have? 

It  doesn't  have  any  powers  at  all.  It's  done  a  little 
bit  of  work  on  getting  standard  contracts,  things  of 
that  sort. 

One  file  you  have  a  somewhat  threatening  note  to 
somebody  that  you  would  "let  the  Authors'  Guild  know 
about  it,  if  they  did  such  and  such..." 



Stewart:  Yes.  I  did  that,  but  it  obviously  didn't  do  anything, 
That's  one  reason  I  didn't  like  it. 

Bless:    Was  instructing  the  reader  a  value  that  you  placed 
high  in  your  writing? 

Stewart:  I  don't  think  so  high  in  my  novels,  no.  Of  course  In 
a  nonfiction  book — no,  I  didn't  place  that  very  high. 
Oh,  I  suppose  it's  inevitable,  having  been  so  much  a 
teacher  in  my  time,  that  I  can't  get  over  the  idea  of 
telling  people,  Instructing  people.  I  suppose  that's 
natural.  But  on  the  whole  I  didn't  look  upon  those 
novels  as  being  instructional. 

Riess:    Another  assumption  I  made  from  my  reading  of  your 

books  is  that  you  think  it's  important  for  people  to 
be  in  touch  with  the  ancient  and  uncivilized  in  our 

Stewart:  Do  I  think  that?  I  guess  I  do,  yes.  Well,  I  think 
we  would  have  to  go  into  my  psyche  a  lot  deeper  than 
we  can  right  now,  to  find  out  about  that!   [laughter] 
I  don't  know  why.  I  think  essentially  what  appeals 
to  me  is  simplicity.  I  often  oversimplify,  I  think. 
I've  been  accused  of  that.   It's  probably  true.  I 
think  it  ties  in  with  that.  The  simple,  the  direct. 

On  the  other  side,  I  have  a  great  sense  of  what  I 
sometimes  call  microcosm,  that  is,  of  trying  to  express 
the  whole  thing  in  a  small  way.  My  books  are  very 
carefully  plotted,  you  notice.  They're  fairly  much 
microcosms  in  themselves.  You  start  with  something, 
and  build  up  to  something,  and  go  to  the  end.  That 
was  in  Storm  and  Earth  Abides,  a  lot  of  them.   Of 
course  Earth  Abides  is  a  microcosm  in  two  or  three 
senses.  So  is  Years  of  the  City. 

I  think  the  idea  of  simplicity  is  the  way  I  would 
put  it.  That  is,  all  my  books  I  think  have  this — 
that's  what  you  were  saying,  really,  the  Interest  in 

Stewart:  the  primitive  in  a  certain  sense.  Take  even  Joe 

Grantland  in  Doctor's  Oral.  His  virtues  are  really 
all  in  his  simplicity.  Did  you  get  a  chance  to  read 
that?  Well,  you  can  see  how  it  is  with  him  there. 
He's  not  brilliant  but  a  very  direct  and  strong  person 
in  his  way. 

Riess:    My  strongest  memory  of  Doctor's  Oral  is  your  statements 
in  the  beginning  and  the  end. 

Stewart:   Well,  as  you  know  I've  always  tried  to  keep  a  certain 
unrealistic  touch  in  my  books  also.  Those  passages 
I  put  in  I've  done  in  so  many  of  my  books.  Some  kind 
of  partly  lyrical  passages.  They're  very  hard  to  know 
how  to  handle  exactly,  but  I  think  on  the  whole  they've 
been  quite  successful  in  most  of  those  books.  I  tried 
that  in  Doctor's  Oral  at  the  beginning  and  at  the  end. 

Riess:    I  would  have  guessed  that  that  was  where  you  said  what 
you  wanted  to  say,  that  that  was  the  point. 

Stewart:   In  a  sense  I  suppose  so.  I  think  the  beginning  and 
end  of  Doctor's  Oral  are  two  of  the  best  things  I 
ever  wrote.  That  book  is  forgotten  about,  but  I  like 
both  those  parts  very  much. 

Riess:    I  would  like  to  ask  the  obvious  about  Doctor's  Oral. 
Who  were  the  people  in  it,  and  how  was  it  received 
by  the  department  here?  And  what  were  your  feelings 
when  you  were  writing  it,  about  the  department? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  could  talk  a  lot  about  that.  I  tried  very 
hard  not  to  make  any  of  the  characters  in  the  book 
seem  like  the  characters  around  Berkeley,  and  on 
the  whole  I  think  I  succeeded  pretty  well  on  that. 
Have  you  heard  any  gossip  about  that? 

Riess:    I  Just  read  in  one  letter  that  somebody  thought 
Martlness  sounded  like  Ben  Lehman. 

Stewart:   Yes.  That  was  almost  inevitable.   There  may  have 

been  some  resemblance — the  way  Ben  was  in  those  days 
much  more  than  the  way  he  was  later.  I  think  the 
man  changed  a  great  deal  in  his  development.  Some 
times  of  course  those  so-called  identifications  of 
characters  were  based  on  some  particular  mannerism, 
a  very  small  matter.   I  often  had  the  idea  that 
these  characters  were  like  certain  people  I  knew, 
often  not  at  Berkeley.  But  I  tried  to  disguise  them, 






Stewart:   so  that  I  didn't  have  too  much  trouble  on  that.   I 

had  no  trouble  that  I  know  of  at  all  in  the  department. 
I  don't  know  whether  there  was  any  real  objection  to 
it  or  not.  There  may  have  been  some  I  never  heard  of. 
The  older  man  there,  Angle,  of  course  many  people 
thought  to  be  a  lot  like  Jack  Tatlook.  He  was  to 
some  extent.  The  woman — I  didn't  really  have  anybody 
in  mind  particularly.  She  was  rather  a  type.  We  had 
no  women  in  the  department  at  that  time,  so  I  couldn't 
be  accused  of  making  use  of  that. 

J.  MacNair  Brice  had  some  mannerisms  like 
Merritt  Hughes,  who  Just  died  the  other  day.  He  was 
in  the  department,  or  had  been  in  the  department — he'd 
gone  to  Wisconsin  by  that  time.   His  way  of  talking — 
he  had  a  kind  of  machine-gun  talk,  talk  in  a  rush, 
you  know,  little  burst  and  spurt  si — that  was  something 
like  Merritt.  Of  course  that's  a  very  small  thing. 

Both  for  Joe  and  Julia  I  had  certain  people  in 
the  background  of  my  mind.  But  not  too  much.  I  used 
myself  in  that  one  fellow  there.  That's  the  only 
time  I  think  I — no,  I  used  myself  other  times  too. 
You  almost  have  to  use  yourself. 

Riess:    Who  were  you? 

Stewart:  The  professor  of  history,  a  minor  character,  really. 
I  more  or  less  absorbed  his  point  of  view  and  I  was 
writing  from  his  point  of  view.   I  can't  think  of 
his  name,  but  he  was  the  one  who  wouldn't  vote  in  the 
end.  But  he  didn't  look  like  me.  He  looked  like  a 
picture  I  saw  in  a  book  review.  I  have  no  idea  who 
he  looked  like,  but  he  didn't  look  like  me  at  all. 

The  people  in  that  book  I  think  were  pretty 
sharply  characterized,  for  a  small  book.  The  whole 
scene  was  pretty  well  organized.  I  had  had  very 
little  experience  with  giving  doctor's  orals  at  that 
time,  actually.  They  weren't  so  common  in  those 
days.  There  weren't  so  many  people,  and  I  was  a 
younger  man  In  the  department.  So  it  was  more  based 
on  my  own  than  anything  else;  there  were  several 
incidents  right  out  of  my  own  doctor's  oral,  and 
some  other  instances  that  people  had  told  me.  All 
that  business  about  "The  Blessed  Damozel,"  for  instance, 
was  told  ne  as  something  that  happened  to  a  Yale  Ph.D. 
That  was  an  incredible  thing!  This  man — I  think  he 
said  it  happened  to  him,  and  in  pretty  much  the  way 

Stewart:  I  told.  it.  It  was  not  the  same  question  but  it  was 
something  equally  unimportant.  It  was  a  comparable 
way  of  going  at  it  and  trying  to  break  a  man  down. 

The  first  question  in  German  happened  on  my 
Ph.D.  examination.   It  was  a  really  friendly  question, 
Just  as  it  was  in  Angle's  case  there,  because  Professor 
Krapp  at  Columbia  asked  me  to  explain  the  "Vierhebungs 
theorie."  He  knew  that  I  knew  it!   [laughing]  So  I 
explained  it.  I  was  almost  knocked  over  when  he  said 
it  in  German  though.  I  knew  what  it  meant  all  right, 
because  I  had  done  some  of  the  reading  in  German. 

Riess:  You  had  that  book  plotted  with  maps,  I  saw,  maps  of 
Julia's  room,  drawings  of  the  cafe. 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  always  enjoyed  doing  that,  having  a  bigger 

frame  of  reference  than  you  actually  use.  I  think  we 
were  talking  about  that  last  time,  how  a  lot  of  what 
I  did  for  the  maps  in  Fire  didn't  get  into  the  book, 
because  I  made  the  map  as  something  in  itself. 

Riess:    At  what  stage  in  your  writing  does  the  map  develop? 

Stewart:  Well,  it  differs  in  different  kinds  of  things.  In 

Doctor's  Oral  the  maps  weren't  very  important  really, 
they  were  Just  fun. 

Riess:    Were  they  included? 

Stewart:  No.  On  the  other  hand,  with  Storm,  the  various  maps 
were  tremendously  important.   In  a  sense  when  I  got 
that  series  of  maps  done,  I  had  written  the  book. 
They  were  very  difficult,  and  meant  a  lot  of  redrawing, 
and  much  work  plotting  the  whole  thing  over  all  those 
days,  you  see.  Getting  one  thing  going  into  another. 

I  always  insisted  upon  having  all  the  loose  ends 
tucked  in  properly.  Similarly  in  Fire.  You'd  be 
surprised  at  how  difficult  that  is,  because  this  fire 
depended  upon  the  terrain  very  largely,  you  see,  the 
terrain,  and  the  tree  growth,  and  so  forth.  You  had 
to  plot  that  all  out.  You  would  get  along  in  your 
plotting,  and  you'd  think  of  some  other  incident  you 
wanted  to  put  in,  then  you  would  go  back  and  change 
everything,  all  the  way  back,  you  know!  After  a 
while,  you'd  Just  have  to  freeze  it.  Keep  everything 
going  there. 


Stewart:       And  of  course  as  you're  writing  a  novel  sometimes 
certain  events  don't  develop  very  much  and  you  don't 
make  much  out  of  them.  That  was  true  in  Fire.  There 
were  certain  things  that  I  thought  would  be  very  big 
and  they  didn't  turn  out  very  big. 

But  really,  in  Storm  and  Fire,  and  Years  of  the 
City.,  mostly  Storm  and  Fire,  the  maps  were  very 
important.  Earth  Abides .  I  didn't  have  any  maps  at 
all,  because  I  used  the  scene  there  in  Berkeley.   I 
had  it  all  in  my  head. 

Rless:    As  soon  as  you  do  the  map,  it's  as  if  it  was  a  factual 
book  and  a  reader  would  respond  within  that  context, 
and  even  note  fallacies. 

Stewart:  Well,  that  of  course  was  particularly  true  of  Storm 

and  Fire.  Earth  Abides,  a  little  bit.   Oh  yes,  I  got 
letters,  as  you  probably  saw  in  there,  from  engineers 
and  all  that  sort  of  thing.  That  business  about  the 
spark  on  the  owl's  wing.  That  was  something  that 
bothered  people  quite  a  bit!  But  I  never  got  too 
much  worried  about  that,  because  I  figured  electricity's 
a  pretty  chancy  thing.  That  was  one  thing.   Oh,  there 
were  a  few  others. 

It  was  translated  into  Swedish.  That  was  one  of 
the  first  languages  it  was  translated  into.  The  Swedes 
made  a  very  elaborate  translation,  with  a  really  top- 
rank  meteorologist  as  consultant.  Did  you  see  any  of 
that?  A  man  named  Bergeron,  who  is  still  living,  by 
the  way.   I  got  to  know  him,  and  he's  way  past  ninety 
now.  Still  going  strong,  one  of  those  indestructible 
Swedes.  They  had  him  in  as  consultant,  and  they 
practically  ruined  the  book.  They  had  a  lot  of 
appendices  and  notes,  you  know,   [laughter]  I  don't 
think  anybody  read  it  except  somebody  who  was  really 
going  after  instruction  in  meteorology. 

Actually,  Bergeron  thought  I  had  one  thing  wrong, 
and  he  changed  the  map.   I  didn't  know  anything  about 
the  translation,  though,  until  after  it  was  finished. 
They  didn't  consult  with  me.   Of  course  it  was  in 
Swedish,  so  I  couldn't  read  it. 

The  great  problem  they  had  was  with  the  exclamation 
the  man  used,  the  "kee-riced! "  The  translator  couldn't 
find  this  in  any  known  English  dictionary,   [laughter] 
They  consulted  the  greatest  philologist  in  the 

Stewart:  university  they  could  find  around  there.   Finally 
somebody  got  it,  you  know.   Instead  of  calling  up 
the  embassy  and  getting  some  second  secretary,  who 
would  have  known  immediately  what  I  was  trying  to  say. 
[laughter]  The  Swedes  are  great  people,  but  I  think 
sometimes  they  lack  a  little  humor. 

Riess:  Getting  back  to  a  few  general  questions,  would  you 
say  here  something  about  education  today,  and  what 
you  might  choose  to  do  now. 

Stewart:  Well,  I  don't  agree  with  the  modern  attitudes  of  young 
people  that  there's  mostly  no  relevancy  in  the  past. 
I  certainly  don't  agree  with  that.  I  go  along  with 
President  Truman.   I  think  you  can  learn  something 
from  the  past.  We  need  that  very  much.  The  great 
trouble  now  is  that  there  hasn't  been  enough  synthesis 
of  all  these  different  knowledges.  The  extent  of 
knowledge  has  increased  so  much  that  it's  very  hard 
to  get  any  kind  of  general  view.  I  think  that's  the 
problem  for  the  future,  sometime,  to  synthesize  these 
things,  so  you're  able  to  get  some  kind  of  view  of 

Rless:    New  kinds  of  curriculum?  Interdepartmental  things? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  think  so,  yes.   I  hate  that  word  "inter 
departmental" — it  never  gets  anywhere.  More  synthesis, 
yes.  Of  course  there  are  courses  like  that.   I  suppose 
some  of  them  are  very  good  ones.  I  can't  go  into 
detail  too  much.   I  think  education  has  two  sides,  one 
being  the  professional  side,  interpreting  "profession" 
in  the  wide  sense;  the  other  is  the  side  that  develops 
the  individual  and  makes  a  good  citizen  out  of  him  so 
to  speak. 

Riess:    Do  you  think  in  education  there  should  be  time  out 

for  kinds  of  living,  and.  then  coming  back  to  education? 
Would  you  have  liked  to  have  done  that  sort  of  thing? 

Stewart:  Not  particularly,  no.  At  least  I  don't  think  I  would 
have.  That  was  rather  outside  the  scope  of  our 


Stewart:  Imagination  at  that  time.  We  Just  weren't  thinking 
In  those  terms.  Of  course  there  were  people  that 
did  It.  As  I  think  I  said  last  time,  I  looked  upon 
the  Ph.D.  rather  the  other  way  around,  as  something 
that  I  wanted  to  do  and  get  over  with  so  that  I 
could  work  on  my  own  more  completely.   I  would 
probably  not  have  gone  with  that  Idea  of  doing  some 
other  kind  of  work,  say  going  out  and  teaching  for 
a  year  for  example. 

Rless:    So  you  don't  have  a  lot  of  "If  I  were  to  do  It  all 
over  again  I  would  do  It  another  way"  feelings? 

Stewart:  One  often  thinks  of  that  sort  of  thing.   I'm  not  at 
all  sure  I  did  it  the  right  way.  But — how  are  you 
going  to  know?  I  wouldn't  lay  down  any  particular 
thing  that  I  would  have  been.   I  Just  think  there  are 
so  many  possibilities.   I  don't  think  I  was  ever 
outstanding  as  a  classroom  teacher.   It's  so  hard  to 
tell  about  those  things. 

Rless:    Your  quality  of  welcoming  a  real  challenge  in  life, 
is  this  part  of  what's  called  the  Puritan  ethic? 

Stewart:  Well,  if  I  knew  what  the  Puritan  ethic  was,  or  Just 
what  you  meant  by  that,  I  could  say  better.  I  think 
the  Puritans  get  blamed  for  a  lot.  Usually  It's  the 
Protestant  ethic,  I  think — isn't  that  what  they  talk 
about  now?  It  isn't  quite  the  same.  But  I  never 
could  say  about  that,  because  it's  the  Jewish  ethic 
too,  and  the  Chinese,  and  lots  of  people  I  think 
you'll  find  have  pretty  much  the  same  Idea.   In  fact 
I  don't  think  the  Catholics  are  lacking  it  either! 
You've  got  all  sorts  of  Catholics.  That  gives  the 
general  impression  that  Catholics  are  all  sort  of 
southern  Italians  who  are  never  bothered  about  anything, 
Not  so.  There  are  all  kinds  of  Catholics.  Lots  of 
English  Catholics  probably  aren't  very  different — 
they're  probably  as  much  part  of  the  Protestant  ethic 
as  anybody  else  for  that  matter. 

Hiess:    Do  you  have  the  belief  that  struggle  develops  a 

Stewart:  Well,  I  suppose  I  have  it,  very  strongly.  It's  my 
natural  way  of  thinking.  As  I  say,  I've  always 
rather  objected  to  the  terminology  there,  because  1 
don't  think  the  Protestants  have  carried  it  out  any 
more  strongly  than  some  other  groups. 


Rless:    One  of  the  results  seems  to  be  that  people  measure 
life  in  terms  of  the  effort,  the  struggle,  and  when 
the  struggle  ends,  they  feel  adrift.  At  retirement, 
for  instance. 

Stewart:  They  really  do,  a  lot  of  them.  We  haven't  got  a  good 
solution  to  that  question  in  this  country.   It's  very 
bad  right  now.  That's  something  that  I  can  see  pretty 
clearly.  But  I  don't  know  that  it  rests  altogether  on 
that  one  attitude,  because  you  do  have  both  the 
physical  and  the  mental  slowlng-down,  which  has  to  be 
reckoned  with.  These  people  could  not  do  their 
regular  work  in  many  instances. 

I  know  the  last  two  or  three  years  that  I  taught, 
I  felt  the  mere  physical  strain  of  teaching  more  than 
I  had  before.   I  don't  think  I  could  do  it  now.  The 
physical  strain  of  giving  a  lecture  course  is  much 
more  than  most  people  realize.  Much  more  than  any 
person  realizes  who  hasn't  done  It.   I  think  it's  a 
question  of  domination.  You  have  to  hold  this  group 
some  way,  and  it's  very  tiring.  For  that  reason  I 
think  6?  is  a  very  good  retirement  age  for  the 
university.  The  question  of  whether  you  can  retire 
gradually  and  ease  out,  I  think  that's  very  doubtful 
too,  whether  that's  a  good  thing.  It's  tied  up  with 
the  actual  weakening  of  the  individual.  People  are 
not  as  good  as  they  were,  very  often.  Some  people 
are,  of  course.  But  not  all. 

Riess:    I'm  suggesting  that  some  people  don't  let  themselves 
stop  struggling. 

Stewart:   I  think  that's  a  fairly  deep  individual  trait.  Some 

people  Just  can't  stand  Inactivity.   I'm  not  very  good 
at  it  myself.  You  can  get  activity  in  various  ways. 
I  know  I  have  tried  to  adapt  myself  to  the  situation. 
When  I  got  to  be  sixty,  I  said  I  wasn't  going  to 
hurry  any  more.   I  kept  that  pretty  well.  I  didn't 
do  much  hurrying.  I  kept  out  of  situations  where  I 
had  to  hurry,  because  I  don't  like  to  hurry.   I 
wouldn't  cross  the  street  until  I  could  cross  the 
street  without  rushing  too  hard.   I  do  that  still. 
Of  course  now  it's  more  or  less  necessitated.   I 
started  it  really  before  I  needed  to  very  much.   I 
certainly  like  to  keep  on  being  active  as  much  as 
I  can. 


INTERVIEW  III,  Conversation  about  priorities  and 
motivation;  the  plays;  abandoned  projects;  Fire . 
Earth  Abides;  teaching  writing;  more  abandoned 
projects. TReoorded  July  16,  1971) 

Rless:    Once  you  told  an  interviewer — at  first  I  thought  maybe 
it  was  Just  a  Joke — that  you  decided  to  write  a  novel 
on  October  10,  1936  at  11  a.m.  on  the  other  side  of 
Petaluma.   Really? 

Stewart:  Well,  it  Just  happened  that  I  had  been  working  on  a 
big  Job.   I  had  finished  Ordeal  by  Hunger  and  had 
tasted  the  pleasures  of  doing  that  sort  of  book, 
which  had  a  popular  audience.   I  was  getting  a  little 
fed  up  on  the  other  Job  I  was  doing,  which  was  going 
to  be  a  long  Job.  I  had  to  go  up  to  Santa  Rosa, 
actually,  to  give  a  lecture,  and  on  that  particular 
day,  I  decided  I  was  going  to  write  a  novel.  My  wife 
was  with  me  in  the  car  there,  nobody  else,  and  she 
thought  it  was  a  good  Idea.  And  so  that's  it,  I  guess. 
It  is  rather  amusing.  It's  nice  to  have  an  exact 
answer  to  a  question,   [laughter]  I  didn't  quite  split 
any  seconds  on  it,  you  see.  I  got  a  round  number, 
11  a.m. 

Rless:    At  that  time,  was  there  anything  you  wanted  particularly 
to  say  in  a  novel  or  book,  or  was  it  Just  the  idea  of 
doing  that  kind  of  writing? 

Stewart:  I  think  it  was  more  the  idea  of  doing  Just  that  kind 
of  writing.  Have  I  shown  you  this  book,  by  the  way? 
This  is  not  like  a  diary,  but  a  kind  of  book  in  which 
I  write  down  things  that  happened  which  'I  think  might 
be  useful  to  know  when  they  happened.  I'm  sure  I've 
got  that  in  there.   [Looking  in  book.]  Yes,  it  is 
there!   So  that's  another  proof  anyway.  Although  I 
didn't  write  that  down  at  the  time,  I  don't  think.  I 

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Stewart : 



made  that  book  up  later, 
if  you  want  to. 

You  can  look  at  that  book 

I  think  It  would  be  interesting  to  know  what  you 
thought  should  go  in  this  non-diary  book. 

Well,  the  first  years  there  was  hardly  anything, 
because  I  was  only  putting  in  exact  dates.  I  could 
write  in  a  lot  of  things  more  or  less,  you  see,  but... 
And  then,  it's  Just  a  lot  of  notes.  It's  a  very 
useful  book  to  have,  by  the  way.  It's  not  like  a 
diary,  but  it  lets  you  check  up  very  rapidly  on 
certain  things — not  all  of  them  very  important.  There's 
a  lot  more  in  there  about  trips  and  that  kind  of  thing 
than  really  should  be,  because  that  gives  you  a  definite 
time  you  can  write  down. 

Riess:  But  that's  good.  In  interviewing,  it  seems  like  a 
lot  of  time  is  spent  trying  to  figure  out  people's 
comings  and  goings. 

Stewart:  Well,  of  course  you  tend  to  remember  things,  you  say, 
"Is  that  before  I  went  to  Europe  or  after — oh,  it  was 
before."  So  that  gives  you — it's  not  that  the  trip 
to  Europe  was  necessarily  important,  but  it's  a  kind 
of  punctuation  mark.  The  stamps  in  the  back  here, 
that's  something  I  started  doing  in  1957*  Every  time  I 
got  a  letter  from  a  different  country,  I  put  that  down 
there.  Those  are  all  the  different  countries.  Isn't 
it  amazing! 

You  wouldn't  think  that  Just  in  the  course  of 
correspondence — you  know,  sometimes  advertisements 
and  post-cards  people  send  back  from  various  countries — 
all  those  countries!   It's  very  hard  to  get  another 
one,  because  they're  Just  way  out  in  the  sticks  now. 
I  even  got  all  the  little  countries  in  Europe,  because 
I  had  a  friend  who  made  a  trip  there.  I'd  been  to 
Andorra.  That  immediately  Inspired  his  going-  to 
Lichtenstein  and  San  Marino  and  all  the  other  little 
places.  He  sent  post -cards  so  I  got  all  those.  I 
Just  mention  that,  because  you  might  wonder  what  those 
stamps  are  doing  in  there.  Do  you  want  to  take  that  book 
along?  Because  I  won't  need  it  of  course.  I'll  be 
away.  You'll  take  good  care  of  it,  I'm  sure. 

Riess:    And  it  is  something  to  take  care  of  I 

Stewart:  Well,  yes.  It  would  be  hard  to  replace. 


Riess:    There ' s  a  question.  What  would  you  take  if  you  had 
to  abandon  this  place  quickly,  at  this  point,  in  the 
event  of  a  fire? 

Stewart:  Well,  if  I  had  a  current  manuscript,  that  had  no 

duplicate,  I  think  I'd  take  that.  I  don't  know.  It's 
pretty  hard  to  say.  Of  course  I've  got  all  of  my 
book  contracts  here,  and  they'd  be  quite  a  natural 
thing,  quite  a  useful  thing  to  take.  And  a  few  books 
of  that  sort.  I've  got  one  book  that  has  all  my 
financial  statements  in  it.  It's  useful  for  tax 

Riess:    Oh,  you  wouldn't  take  advantage  of  that  opportunity 
to  leave  that  kind  of  thing  behind? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  don't  think  that — these  are  all  second  thoughts 
anyway.  We  cleaned  out  so  much  stuff  when  we  moved, 
you  see,  that  I  don't  have  the  problem  that  most  people 
would  have.  I've  got  my  personal  files  still  (I  haven't 
given  them  to  Bancroft),  which  are  really  more  personal, 
they  weren't  about  the  books,  that  sort  of  thing. 
Those  I'd  hate  to  lose,  but  the  trouble  is,  that  all 
amounts  to  so  much  that  I  couldn't  take  all  of  that. 
I'd  have  to  grab  the  first  thing  that  came  along. 

Is  that  a  good  question  generally? 
Riess:    It  seems  like  a  good  question. 

Stewart:  That's  like  the  question,  if  you  were  going  to  be 
some  animal,  what  animal  would  you  want  to  be? 

Riess:  Yes.  What  animal  would  you  want  to  be? 

Stewart:  A  seal. 

Riess:  That's  very  appealing. 

Stewart:  Well,  it's  such  a  nice  happy  animal. 

Riess:  How  about  an  otter? 

Stewart:  I  think  otters  are  very  fine.  I  don't  know  so  much 

about  otters.  I  read  that  one  book  about  otters,  but 
I've  never  seen  a  wild  otter.  But  I  think  they're  very 
nice.   Of  course  dolphins  are  wonderful  things,  you 
know.  That's  not  a  bad  question  though,  for  a  parlor 
game.  People  usually  react  to  it,  and  you  get  very 



Stewart:  different  reactions. 

Riess:    When  you  decided  to  write  a  novel,  did  you  have  a 

sense  of  being  released  from  the  other  thing  you  had 
had  in  mind? 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  enjoyed  it  very  much.  I  had  a  very  good  time 
writing  it,  and  it  all  went  very  well,  I  didn't  make 
any  too  bad  mistakes. 

Riess:    Would  you  agree  to  the  idea  that  there  was  a  book 
inside  of  you  waiting  to  be  written? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  suppose  obviously  there  was. 

Riess:    I  mean,  the  idea  that  there  was  something  to  be  gotten 
out,  in  the  writing  of  the  book. 

Stewart:  No,  I  don't  think  so  so  much.  You  mean  some  release 
for  myself,  that  kind  of  thing?  I  suppose  there  was 
to  some  extent,  yes.  I  don't  think  that  was  a  very 
specific  object. 

Riess:    What  was  the  other  thing  that  you  were  working  on 
that  you  abandoned? 

Stewart:  That  was  a  sort  of  general  history  of  western  Amerian 
literature.  A  very  large  comprehensive  study. 

Riess:    I  remember  reading  at  one  point  that  you  had  saved 
the  big  Names  book  for  "late  in  life,  for  old  age 
and  garrulousness,"  and  I  thought  maybe  the  history 
of  American  literature  — 

Stewart:     Well,   it's  really  working  out,   isn't  it! 

Riess:    Maybe  the  comprehensive  history  of  western  American 
literature  might  have  been  saved  too. 

Stewart:  No,  no,  I  wouldn't  attempt  that  now.  What  I  don't 
like  to  do  now  is  all  the  legwork  of  research.  I 
find  that  difficult,  partly  for  physical  reasons. 
It's  just  too  tiring.  And  partly  for  other  reasons 
too,  I  suppose.  In  a  detailed  subject,  I  can  do  a 
lot  of  work.   I've  done  a  tremendous  amount  of  work 
on  this  Names  book  too.  I  can't  very  well  say  that 
I  haven't  done  a  lot  of  work  there  too.  I  don't' 
know  why.   I  think  it's  because  I  happen  to  be 








Stewart  : 

Interested  In  that  thing  at  the  moment,  so  I  can  do 

I  find  motivation  gets  to  be  a  more  difficult 
problem  as  you  get  older.  I  don't  know  whether  most 
people  notice  that  or  not,  but  that's  part  of  my 
thing,  I  notice.  You're  not  working  for  a  promotion, 
you're  not  working  for  money  particularly.  You  don't 
really  need  that  money.  One  thing  and  another  of 
that  sort.   I  think  motivation  gets  to  be  very 
Important.   I  have  to  be  very  careful  to  pick  a 
subject  that  I'm  really  sure  I  want  to  do.  I  don't 
think  I  could  possibly  do  a  book  for  a  publisher. 

Of  course,  I  never  have  done  that,  except  In 
one  case,  which  was  my  subject  to  start  with,  and 
that  was  the  California  Trail.  But  I  would  find  It 
more  difficult  now,  anyway. 

Was  there  any  writing  that  you  ever  did  in  order  to 
pay  a  bill? 

Not  specifically,  no.  Of  course  I've  never  had  any 
objection  to  making  money.  In  the  thirties,  people 
around  the  University  were  awfully  hard  up.  Terribly 
hard  up  some  of  the  time.  So  any  little  bit  of  money 
that  I  got  in  was  extremely  welcome. 

But  maybe  short  stories  or  something  like  that,  that 
you  wrote  to  pay  the  tax  bill? 

Oh,  I  have  written  some  short  things,  not  exactly  to 
make  money,  but  Just  as  I  wrote  novels.  I  was  never 
very  successful  in  short  stories  though.  I  never 
had  the  knack,  some  way  or  another.  So  I  never  went 
very  far  with  them. 

I  looked  at  your  plays, 
happened  with  them. 

I  would  like  to  know  what 

Well,  I  never  had  any  luck  in  that  either,  really, 
but  that  is  understandable  because  making  a  break  In 
writing  plays  is  a  very,  very  difficult  business, 
the  amount  of  money  it  takes  to  put  on  a  play. 
Publishing  a  novel  is  a  very  small  venture,  but  a 
play  is  more  difficult.   I  wrote  four  plays. 

I  like  writing  plays  very  much.  They  came  very 
nicely  to  me.  I  don't  think  they're  bad  plays,  either, 


Stewart:  but  as  I  say,  again,  I  never  had  the  knaok  with  them. 

Riess:    Well,  it  sounds  like  that  was  a  time  when  really  an 
agent  oould  have  worked  selling  them. 

Stewart:   I  had  an  agent  for  those. 

Riess:    But  people  haven't  seen  them,  I  guess. 

Stewart:  Well,  they  have.   One  of  them  was  put  on  at  the 

University,  and  our  section  club,  the  drama  section 
there,  has  done  three  of  them.  And  so  they  have  been 
put  on,  that  much. 

Funny,  I  generally  write  comedies  in  plays.  My 
books  are  not  particularly  comedies,  but  some  way  or 
other,  whenever  I  try  to  write  a  drama,  It  always 
came  out  as  a  comedy,  one  way  or  another,  maybe  a 
tragicomedy,  but  that's  the  way  I  saw  things.  I  like 
the  sense  of  writing  for  the  theater.  I  wish  that  I'd 
been  able  to  do  it  a  little  bit  more,  or  that  I'd 
had  more  incentive  to  do  it. 

There's  a  sense  of  everything  being  spatially 
related,  and  I  have  a  pretty  strong  spatial  mind. 
Well,  It's  a  temporal  mind  too,  maybe.  But  I  could 
always  keep  these  people  where  they  were,  what  they 
were  doing,  how  you  got  them  on  and  off.  That  came 
very  naturally  to  me.  Handling  the  theme  through 
dialog  I  found  very  good. 

Riess:    Speaking  of  the  time  and  space  relativity  thing,  it 

seems  that  idea  really  took  hold  of  you,  particularly 
in  the  play  where  time  stands  still.*  Can  you  remember 
the  growth  of  that  idea? 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  can  tell  you  a  lot  about  that.   It's  rather 

irrelevant,  most  of  it.  That  play  started  in  Grot one, 
in  Italy,  the  old  Greek  colony  of  Croton.  A  terrible 
little  town.  We  were  there  one  night,  and  we  probably 
had  drunk  a  lot  of  wine  at  the  table,  and  this  man 
came  wandering  through,  sort  of  not  doing  anything, 
Just  a  crazy  kind  of  Italian  setting  there.   I  never 
knew  what  he  was  doing.  He'd  wander  in  and  he'd  wander 
out  again.  And  in  the  play,  you  know,  this  is  that 
men  who  keeps  wandering  and  and  wandering  out,  and 

*"I  Wish  I  Might1 


Stewart:  never  does  or  says  anything.  So  we  said  this  would 
make  a  good  play,  and  we  began  talking  about  it. 
The  thing  developed  up. 

I  donft  know  exactly  where  the  idea  of  the  time 
standing  still  developed  from.  I  can't  tell  you 

Riess:    The  clerk  in  ths  hotel  keeps  talking  about  being 
interested  in  science  fiction.  Maybe  there  was  a 
very  big  vogue  for  science  fiction. 

Stewart:  Well,  there  was  at  that  time.  But  there  has  been  at 
a  great  many  times.  That's  not  very  unusual.  I 
thought  that  play  worked  out  pretty  well,  though. 
That  went  off. 

Then  I  got  this  idea  of  having  the  scrambled 
proverbs.  You  noticed  that  part,  didn't  you?  It's 
Just  a  gimmick,  but  it's  a  very  good  comic  gimmick. 
Those  things  are  rather  hard  to  make  up.  That  is,  I 
don't  know  whether  I  can  quote  one  or  not,  but  you 
take  two  proverbs  and  run  them  together. 

Riess:    Oh,  yes!   Malopropisms,  sort  of?  Like  making  a  silk 
purse  out  of  a  red  herring,  or  something  like  that? 

Stewart:   [laughing]  Yes,  that's  right. 
Riess:    Yes.   I  certainly  did  notice  them. 

Stewart:  The  play  that  I  had  in  my  mind  for  a  long  time  I 
think  is  a  very  good  play.   It's  the  last  one  I 
wrote,  the  one-act  play  about  the  two  people,  where 
the  war  breaks  out  and  they  don't  know  what's 
happening,  and  they  can't  speak  the  language. 

Riess:    What  was  the  name  of  that  one? 

Stewart:   "Beyond  the  River."  I  had  some  other  title  for  it, 

too.*  I  never  really  made  up  my  mind  about  the  title, 

It  often  struck  me  in  Europe  how  you  were  in  a 
place  where  you  don't  speak  the  language,  and  maybe 

*"Beyond  the  River,"  or  "Failure  of  Communication" 

Stewart:  the  radio  would  be  going,  and  something  terrific  might 
happen  and  you  wouldn't  know  what  It  was  at  all.  So 
that's  really  what  I  tried  to  work  out  there.   I 
thought  that  worked  out  pretty  well. 

The  thing  that  stymied  me  for  a  long  time  was, 
I  thought  I'd  have  to  have  a  bilingual  audience.  Then 
I  figured  you  could  Just  cut  that  bridge  entirely, 
you  see.  Just  have  them  all  speaking  English,  but 
the  stage  convention  is  that  they  don't  understand. 
I  think  that  gets  across  all  right. 

Riess:    There  was  another  play,  "Where  is  Mr.  Winkleton?" 

that  seemed  to  Involve  poltergeists.   Can  you  sum  up 
"Where  is  Mr.  Winkleton?" 

Stewart:  Well,  I  think  that's  the  least  successful  of  the 

plays.   It's  Just  an  old  idea  I  had  there,  about  a 
visit  from  some  other  world.  Of  course  there  was 
another  play  done  on  that  theme,  not  so  very  long 
before  I  wrote  that.   I  waited  around  too  long  before 
I  wrote  it.  The  other  wasn't  a  very  good  play,  but 
it  got  peoples'  minds  on  that  subject.  As  I  say,  I 
don't  think  my  play  comes  off  so  well. 

Playwriting  is  a  difficult  field.  There  are 
only  a  few  plays  produced  in  any  year,  and  then  of 
course  a  few  amateur  attempts.  Whereas  a  novel 
doesn't  cost  very  much  to  publish.  There  are,  I  guess, 
a  couple  of  thousand  novels  published  every  year.  So, 
even  though  novels  are  hard  enough  to  break  into,  at 
least  you  have  a  chance. 

I  never  was  able  to  come  across  in  writing  plays 
really,  although  I  liked  to  do  it.   I  wrote  a  play  in 
19^0  on  General  Grant.   My  agent  took  that  quite 
seriously  and  she  tried  to  place  it,  but  couldn't 
get  it  across.   I  thought  particularly  on  account  of 
the  war,  and  the  situation  about  the  war,  the  thing 
might  have  some  possibility.  That's  the  only  serious 
play  I  ever  wrote,  really.  The  others  I  always  think 
of  in  terms  of  comedy. 

I  wrote  one,  which  Ted  helped  with  some  too. 
We  thought  about  it  together  when  we  were  in  Italy. 
We  put  it  out  under  two  names — the  only  time  I  ever 
did  that.  That  was  the  one  called  "I  Wish  I  Might." 
They  produced  that  in  the  University.  It  all  went 



Stewart;  pretty  well,  although  I  didn't  see  It  there;  we  were 
in  Greece  about  then.  Then  I  wrote  the  Mr.  Wlnkleton 
play.  Then  I  wrote  that  one  act  play  "Beyond  the 
River,"  which  I  think  has  the  best  possibility  of  any 
of  those. 

I  wouldn't  recommend  your  reading  them  partic 
ularly.   I  like  writing  plays  tremendously.   I'm 
sorry  that  I  never  was  able  to  establish  myself  so  I 
could  learn  more  about  it.  The  whole  sense  of  the 
stage  and  that  kind  of  thing  as  I  said  doesn't  bother 
me  at  all.   I  took  to  it,  I  thought,  very  naturally. 
Expressing  the  thing  through  conversation  and 
through  action,  together.  Always  knowing  where  you 
are  and  having  a  visual  sense  which  I  think  I  have 
very  strongly.  Knowing  what  you  can  do,  what  point 
of  view  you  can  express,  all  that.  I  did  those  things 
very  rapidly. 

Riess:    How  well  would  drama  have  worked  for  getting  across 

some  of  your  themes,  like  environment,  or  simplifica 

Stewart:  Well,  it  Just  never  occurred  to  me,  or  appealed  to 
me,  to  write  in  that  vein.  As  I  say  I  wrote  mostly 
comedies.   I  don't  know  why.   I  think  the  stage  always 
struck  me  as  an  opportunity  for  being  funny,  and  then 
I  wasn't  funny  enough.  But  that's  the  way  it  worked. 
Maybe  if  I'd  done  a  heroic  play  or  something  like 
that,  I'd  have  gotten  away  with  it.   "General  Grant" 
was,  to  a  certain  extent. 

Riess:    Plays  aren't  about  things  like  environment,  ecology, 

Stewart:  Oh,  they  could  be.  Novels  aren't  either,  generally. 

Riess:    I  noticed  in  your  files  a  parody  of  the  Drama  Section 

Stewart:  Oh  yes.  That  was  lots  of  fun.  That  was  really  lots 
of  fun.  That  was  with  Born  Yesterday.  Of  course, 
Born  Yesterday  was  the  real  play.   Oh,  I'll  never 
forget  some  of  those  things.  Ed  Strong  was  playing 
the  lead  there.   I  had  it  all  fixed  up  with  him.  He 
was  going  to  get  shaved,  you  see.  That  gave  him  an 
excuse  to  take  off  his  shirt.  And  underneath  there 
was  a  great  big  tattoo,   [laughing]   It  said  "Gertie." 


Stewart:  His  wife's  Gertrude!   I  forget  what  it  was — you  know, 
a  lot  of  hearts  and  a  naked  woman  and  what  not. 
[laughter]  That  was  under  it  when  he  took  off  his 
shirt.   I  had  that  really  staked  out  that  time.  I 
don't  think  that  comes  out  in  the  text. 

Riess:    It  was  a  drama  reading  club? 

Stewart:  Well,  we  act  these  things,  you  see.   It's  not  a  reading. 
We  read  the  parts,  but  we  also  act  the  whole  thing. 
It's  a  very  remarkable  group.  It's  been  going  for 
over  forty  years  now,  and  it's  very  unusual  to  keep 
a  group  like  that  going  so  long.   It's  really  been 
quite  amazing. 

Bless:    Nobody  memorizes  their  part? 

Stewart:  No,  we  don't  memorize  parts  at  all.  That's  what  makes 
it  so  much  better,  because  you  don't  have  the  strain 
of  remembering  your  part,  and  you  can  really  throw 
yourself  into  the  acting.  Then  of  course  you  get  all 
sorts  of  funny  situations,  where  people  should  be 
doing  something  and  have  to  stop  and  look  at  the 
book.  But  it's  really  lots  of  fun.  That  was  one  of 
the  best  things  we  ever  had,  really,  because  it  really 
came  off  in  a  big  way. 

Riess:    Were  you  in  it  for  forty  years?  Are  you  still  in  it? 

Stewart:  We're  still  in  it,  yes.  I'm  pretty  much  inactive 

now.  We've  put  on  a  lot  of  plays  in  that  time.   In 
fact  the  first  plays  we  ever  gave  were  at  our  house. 
We  even  re-wrote  some  of  the  original  plays  as  we 
went  along  in  there.  I  had  one  very  good  line — the 
heroine  Just  gets  mixed  up.  First  she  starts 
declaiming  about  this  country  and  its  institutions, 
the  people  who  inhabit  it — and  I  got  the  other  ones 
in,  about  the  people  who  inhibit  it,  and  the  people 
who  cohabit  it.   [laughter]  I  thought  they  were  very 
good  variations. 

Riess:    Did  you  ever  go  on  with  your  idea  of  the  story  of 
the  deceased  member  of  the  club  whose  history  ends 
with  his  birth?  A  member  of  a  club  dies,  and  in  a 
kind  of  "in  memoriam"  speech  they  never  mention 
anything  of  his  life  but  only  what  happened  prior  to 
it,  because  it  is  the  events  prior  to  a  person's 
life  that  make  the  life. 



Stewart:  Yes.  No,  I  never  did  anything  with  that.  The  thing 
there  is  you  get  tagged  every  now  and  then  around 
the  University  to  do  somebody's  obituary,  which  is 
always  kind  of  a  lugubrious  matter,  some  friend  of 
yours  has  died,  you  know,  and  I  think  that's  what 
got  me  thinking  about  that.  You  see,  you  have  only 
a  short  piece  to  write  anyway,  you've  got  very  strict 
space  limitations.  If  you  really  were  going  to  do 
it,  you'd  exhaust  your  space  before  you  got  to  the 
time  a  man  was  born.  But  I  never  did  anything  more 
with  that. 

Riess:    Being  yourself  an  action  man,  that  doesn't  seem  a 
fair  way  to  approach  people's  biographies. 

Stewart:  Oh,  no.  It  would  be  a  gimmick. 

Riess:    I  wonder  really  how  much  you  believe  in  the  idea. 

Stewart:  Well,  it's  Just  a  little  slight  projection  of  the 

fact  that  people  say,  "If  you  give  me  a  child  that's 
five  years  old,  he's  all  fixed  by  that  time."  This 
Just  puts  it  back  a  little  bit  farther.  The  heredity 
and  the  prenatal  Influence  might  be  thought  as 
determining  that.  Actually  I  think  heredity  deter 
mines  a  great  deal  of  people  anyway.  There's  no 
question  about  that.  I  don't  know  how  much  the 
prenatal  does.   I  don't  think  anybody  knows  enough 
about  that. 

Riess:    Except  that  in  There  Was  Light  you  said  that  Joel 
Hildebrand  had  said  that  if  he'd  gotten  hold  of  you 
earlier  he  could  have  made  you  into  a  great  chemist.* 
And  I've  understood  from  our  earlier  interviews  that 
if  things  had  gone  differently  in  the  University  that 
you  might  have  become  a  great  administrator  rather 
than  a  great — 

Stewart:   [laughing]  Well,  keep  that  "great"  out  of  it!   I 

don't  think  I  said  that!  No,  I  don't  think  I  would 
however,  actually.  Those  are  Just  interesting 

*p.  1^4-8,  There  Was  Light. 


Riess:    In  an  Interview  you  gave  after  Fire.  I  saw  your  comment 
that  you  felt  terrible  at  the  end  of  writing  it,  and 
you  say,  "one  of  the  reasons  that  I  felt  terrible  at 
the  end  of  writing  Fire  may  have  been  that  in  some 
sense  I  was  repeating  myself,  and  I  knew  most  of  the 
tricks  which  I  was  playing."  Would  you  comment  on 
that  now? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  don't  remember  particularly  about  the  way  I 
felt  at  that  time  now.  But  that's  a  general  idea 
that  I've  been  very  sensitive  about,  doing  the  same 
thing  twice.  It  bothers  me.  Of  course  that's  what 
a  great  many  writers  do  all  the  time.  It's  their 
stock  in  trade.  They  learn  a  few  tricks,  and  they 
keep  on  using  them.  I  never  liked  that.   In  lecturing 
it  always  bothered  me.  I  hated  getting  around  to 
the  same  point  the  next  year,   [laughing]  Of  course 
you  can't  help  yourself  there,  because  you  do  go 
around.   In  particular,  I  would  think,  well  now  maybe 
somebody's  repeating  this  course I   [laughter] 

So  I  did  have  that  feeling  about  writing  Fire. 
I  think  in  a  way  it  was  the  least  Interesting  book 
for  me  to  do,  because  in  a  sense  I  was  using  the  same 
tricks,  and  I  knew  the  results  I  could  get  out  of 
certain  things.  That  failed  to  stimulate  me  the  way 
other  books  have  done.  Although  I  think  the  book 
came  off  all  right. 

Riess:    Is  it  possible  that  your  closeness  to  the  actual  fire 
made  It  seem  a  real  tragedy? 

Stewart:  Well,  that  might  be  true. 

Riess:    I  had  a  little  speculation:   In  Earth  Abides,  one 

feels  your  acceptance  of  devastation,  and  of  survival. 
I  wonder  whether  the  ideas  of  Earth  Abides  were  with 
you  at  all  back  in  Fire? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  think  they  were.  I  thought  about  that  book 
for  quite  a  while  before  I  wrote  it.  It  must  have 
been  in  my  mind  when  I  was  writing  Fire,  but  I'm  not 
sure  that  there  Is  such  a  great  difference  between 
the  two  books  in  their  attitudes.  Because  they  both 
are  of  natural  phenomena,  a  thing  you  can't  argue 
about,  although  they  tried  to  argue  with  Fire 
certainly.  I  don't  think  the  two  books  are  so  very 
different  in  their  attitudes,  no.   If  that's  what 
you're  interested  in. 


Riess:    In  Fire  there 's  the  Idea  that  fire  Is  senseless  and 
we  should  do  everything  to  stop  fire,  and  that  fire 
is  a  terrible  force.  And  yet  when  there's  finally 
the  fire  in  Earth  Abides,  the  reader  is  surprised 
that  it  hasn't  happened  earlier,  and  people  Just  go 
someplace  else,  and  the  fire  has  more  rights  than  the 
people,  kind  of. 

Stewart:  Yes.  Well,  actually  in  Fire,  as  I  wrote  the  book,  I 
got  into  a  certain  amount  of  divided  feeling  about 
this,  because  fire  is  a  natural  force.  The  landscape, 
the  forests,  and  everything  else  in  the  world  have 
been  formed  against  the  background  of  fire,  so  that 
a  lot  of  these  things  are  not  necessarily  bad.  I  got 
more  of  that  feeling.  But  I  didn't  really  change 
the  attitude  of  the  book,  which  was  that  this  fire 
was  bad.   I  got  into  a  little  bit  of  psychological 
difficulty  there. 

You  know,  the  one  man  in  Fire  who  is  not  emotional 
about  the  whole  thing,  the  Super,  he  came  to  represent 
my  attitude  more  than  anybody  else.  I'm  still 
that  way,  as  a  matter  of  fact.   I  don't  mind  cutting 
down  trees.   It's  part  of  the  cycle.  I  think  small 
trees  are  Just  as  beautiful  as  big  trees,  as  long  as 
you  give  them  a  chance  to  grow.  Just  preserving  all 
these  forests  doesn't  strike  me  as  so  important,  so 
long  as  you  don't  wreck  things  by  bad  cutting  of  the 
trees  and  destroying  the  land,  and  all  that.  That 
was  the  attitude  of  that  man,  you  see.  He  saw  it  in 
the  larger  pattern.  The  other  fellow  got  emotional 
about  it.  And  of  course  he  made  mistakes  partially 
because  he  got  emotional  about  it.  He  tried  to  save 
the  wrong  things. 

Riess:    How  long  was  Earth  Abides  in  the  back  of  your  mind? 

Stewart:  I  don't  know  when  the  idea  first  came  to  me.  I 

suppose  it  was  probably  five  or  ten  years  in  my  mind. 

Riess:    Was  there  ever  any  question  about  who  would  survive? 
About  whether  Joey  would  survive? 

Stewart:   I  rewrote  the  middle  part  of  that  book  more  severely 

than  I  ever  rewrote  any  other  book,  novel  or  otherwise. 
Right  now,  offhand,  I  can't  tell  you  all  the  details 
that  got  shifted  around  in  there.  I  think  Joey's 
death  was  always  part  of  it,  though.  As  I  say,  that 
was  the  part  that  gave  me  the  most  trouble.  How  do 


Stewart:  you  think  it  stands  up  to  the  rest  of  the  book  now? 

Riess:    I  don't  find  weak  parts  in  it,  but  I  wondered  whether 
the  Joey  thing  was  something  that  you  hashed  around 
at  all  in  your  mind,  whether  in  thinking  about  the 
book  over  ten  years  your  thoughts  were  growing  and 
changing  in  ways  that  would  affect  the  outcome  of 
the  book. 

Stewart:   I  wish  I  could  tell  you  more  precisely,  because  as 
I  say,  I  have  a  hard  enough  time  keeping  all  my 
books  in  mind,  much  less  keeping  in  mind  the  books 
they  might  have  been  if  they  had  been  some  other 
way.   [laughing]  I'm  a  little  bit  vague  about  what 
it  was.  I  remember  the  first  part  carried  right 
through.  That  was  fine.  I  really  didn't  pause  on 
that.  Then  the  middle  of  a  novel,  I  think,  generally 
speaking,  is  the  hardest  part  to  write.  You  realize 

You  start  out  fresh,  with  a  strong  idea,  or  you 
shouldn't  be  writing  at  all.  And  that  rush  carries 
you  through  maybe  a  third  of  the  way.  Then  you  get 
more  and  more  complications  in  the  middle  and  it  gets 
difficult.  Then,  after  a  certain  part,  you  see  the 
light  at  the  end  of  the  tunnel,  and  you  come  through. 
And  in  Earth  Abides  the  middle  part  would  about  end 
with  the  death  of  Joey.  After  that,  you  see,  things 
were  laid  out.  They  are  laid  out  in  the  writer's 
mind,  anyway.  He  can  work  from  there  more  easily. 

The  whole  business  in  the  middle  there — the 
first  part  of  the  Second  Book,  or  whatever  it's  called 
there — that  was  the  difficult  part. 

Riess:    The  book  has  two  sections  that  are  called  the  "Quick 
Years"  and  then  in  between  them — 

Stewart:  There  are  three  parts,  you  see.  The  third  part  is 
quite  short.  The  third  part  was  fine  to  do  too. 
That  went  very  well  Just  as  the  first  part  did.  The 
middle  part  was  the  difficult  one.  I'm  Just  glad 
that  it  got  good  enough  so  that  you  don't  think  about 
it  as  being  the  weak  part. 


Riess:    Who  did  you  model  Ish  in  old  age  on? 

Stewart:  I  don't  know.  I've  always  liked  doing  old  people. 
There  are  quite  a  few  old  people  in  my  books,  and  I 





Stewart : 


Stewart : 

wrote  them  before  I  was  old,  too!  But  there's  some 
thing  that  has  always  appealed  to  me  with  writing 
about  them.   I  don't  know  why. 

Did  I  tell  you  about  the  boy  who  came  up  from 
Stanford  to  talk  about  Earth  Abides  a  few  months 
ago?  I  asked  him  what  his  favorite  part  of  It  was, 
or  what  he  thought  of  It,  Just  to  make  conversation. 
He  picked  out  Immediately — he  said  the  part  he 
thought  was  the  great  part  was  the  conversation  of 
Ish  and  Jack  at  the  first  part  of  the  last  book.  He 
said,  "Oh,  that's  just  right." 

I  don't  know  how  much  of  it  was  he  reflecting 
his  own  relationship  with  his  father  or  something. 
But  I  think  that's  a  good  part  too.  That's  a  very 
successful  part,  where  he  talks  about  the  Americans. 

Was  this  anything  like  what  your  father  was  as  you 

I  don't  think  particularly, 
consciously  in  mind  anyway. 

I  didn't  have  that 

What's  that  pinching  of  Ish  all  about? 

Well,  that's  Just  the  way  some  people  do  with  their 
gods,  you  know.  They  have  that  curious  attitude. 
They  have  great  respect  and  fear  for  them  in  some 
ways,  but  the  gods  have  got  to  behave  too!   I  don't 
know  exactly  where  that  comes  from,  but  I'm  sure 
there  are  things  I've  read  about. 

When  Man  was  coming  out,  you  wanted  to  do  it  under 
a  different  name. 

Yes.   I  wanted  it  to  have  no  name  at  all.  After  all, 
it's  called  Man,  an  Autobiography.   I  Just  wanted  to 
put  it  out  that  way,  but  they  wanted  to  use  my  name. 
It's  kind  of  silly  the  way  it  is  now. 

But  you  could  have  prevailed,  couldn't  you? 

Oh,  I  suppose,  yes,  but  I  don't  know.  I  never  like 
to  fight  too  much  with  my  publishers.  After  all, 
they've  got  to  think  of  it  in  terms  of  how  they  can 
promote  the  book  and  so  forth. 


Riess:    Then  also  in  the  early  notes  and  things  on  Man,  It 
sounds  like  it  was  thought  of  as  a  novel. 

Stewart:   In  a  sense  it  is,  I  suppose.   It  depends  on  what 

you  mean  by  a  novel.   "Novel"  is  a  very  vague  term. 

Hiess:    Fiction. 

Stewart:  Yes.  Well,  it  still  is  difficult.  Because  after 

all,  it  obviously  is  a  kind  of  fictionalized  scheme, 
this  personification  of  man.   (If  you  can  call  it 
personification.)  And  in  a  sense,  using  the  form  of 
"I,"  for  instance,  is  a  novelist! c  device.  What  I 
don't  like  is  having  Ordeal  by  Hunger  called  a  novel. 
I  guess  I've  spoken  about  that  already.   I  don't 
mind  it  in  Man  because  in  a  sense  it  is. 

Rless:    I  wonder  if  the  decision  to  sell  it  through  that 
newly  formed  nonfiction  book  club  helped  sales. 

Stewart:  Well,  that  didn't  amount  to  much,  I  think,  one  way 
or  the  other.  Apparently  it  was  one  of  the  times 
when  they  were  trying  to  start  a  lot  of  book  clubs 
and  that  was  another  one.  I  don't  think  it  ever  got 
anywhere  very  much.  I  don't  think  that  made  much 

Riess:    Did  you  do  much  revision  of  Man? 

Stewart:  No,  not  much.  You  can  probably  find  some  of  the 
manuscript  in  there.  No,  I  wrote  that  very  fast. 

Riess:    Did  any  of  the  readers  at  Random  House  give  you  any 
warning  of  the  furor  there  would  be  about  the  book? 

Stewart:  No,  I  don't  think  they  did.  That  was  probably  mostly 
a  result  of  the  fact  that  part  of  It  was  published 
in  Reader's  Digest.  That  took  it  to  a  group  of  people 
that  would  be  stirred  up  about  a  problem  like  that. 
You  mean  the  religious? 

Riess:    Yes,  and  the  evolutionary  things. 

Stewart:  Yes,  that  surprised  me.  Then  you  see,  even  more 

surprising  was  the  fact  that  the  Norwegian  publisher 
wouldn't  publish  it.  He  got  a  contract  on  it,  and 
then  wanted  to  revise  it,  to  take  that  part  out.   I 
wouldn't  let  him.  That  was  one  time  I  did  stand  on 
my  rights.  And  he  never  published  it.  That  surprised 


Stewart:  me  very  much,  because  Norway's  a  pretty  advanced 
country,  after  all. 

Riess:    Yes.  Do  you  think  it  was  the  way  the  synopsis  was 
handled  that  got  to  the  people  in  Reade r  *  s  Di^e s  t?_  • 
or  do  you  Just  think  it  was  the  readership  of 
Reader's  Digest? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  never  studied  the  way  it  was  presented 
particularly.   I  don't  like  those  condensations 
anyway.  I  think  it  was  probably  mostly  the  type  of 
people  it  got  to. 

Riess:    Do  you  have  any  kind  of  control  over  the  condensations? 

Stewart:  No,  you  don't  have,  really,  and  it's  a  bad  system. 
I  wouldn't  want  to  have  anything  to  do  with  the 
condensation  of  my  own  book.  You  Just  let  it  go, 
and  the  publisher  always  likes  to  sell  it.  They  pay 
pretty  well.  People  get  some  idea  of  the  book.  I 
don't  know.  I'm  Inclined  to  think  that  the  best  thing 
for  an  author  to  do  would  be  not  to  allow  any  con 
densations  at  all.  They're  not  satisfactory  things. 

Riess:    Fire,  condensed  in  Ladies  Home  Journal,  became  a  tale 
for  women,  and  in  Reader's  Digest,  Judith  was  left  out 

Stewart:  Well,  you've  studied  it  more  than  I  have!  But  that's 
natural,  I  suppose,  that  that  would  be  the  difference 
in  the  two.  That  is  funny,  though. 

Riess:    Judith  does  come  mostly  in  the  beginning  and  the  end 
of  Fire,  as  parentheses,  kind  of. 

Stewart:  Well,  she  could  be  left  out. 




Riess:    As  I  went  through  stuff  in  Bancroft  Library,  a  lot 

of  it  was  ideas  written  on  one  side  of  paper,  and  on 
the  back  would  be  an  old  exam  paper  from  one  of  your 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  recycled  even  in  those  days I 

Riess:    One  of  the  exams  was  to  write  an  essay  on  Thoreau's 
attitudes — based  on  the  philosophy  in  Walden — what 
they  might  consistently  be  at  the  present  toward 
price  regulation,  Jet  travel,  fascism,  strikes,  eto. 
And  then  you  warned  the  student  not  to  make  it  "an 
imaginative  orgy,  but  a  reasonable  argument."  Now 
I  wonder,  actually,  what  kind  of  a  teacher  you  were. 
If  you  had  gotten  back  a  really  good  imaginative 
orgy,  wouldn't  that  have  been  the  one  that  you  would 
have  liked? 

Stewart:  Yes,  if  it  were  really  good.  But  then  the  trouble  is 
that  if  the  student  hasn't  read  the  book  and  doesn't 
know  anything  about  Thoreau  and  Just  tries  to  write 
a  romance  which  doesn't — you  don't  want  to  give  them 
much  credit.  You  aren't  going  to  get  a  really  good 
thing,  you  know. 

Riess:    In  that  period  of  time? 

Stewart:  No.   It's  very  very  rare  that  you  get  an  examination 
which  has  any  real  literary  quality  to  it,  naturally. 
Occasionally  you  do. 

Riess:    How  did  your  students  approach  you  as  an  author? 
What  did  your  being  an  author  do? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  wouldn't  say  that  most  of  them  knew  anything 
about  it  in  the  first  place,   [laughter]  You'd  be 
surprised  at  how  much  students  keep  their  professors 
in  compartments,  you  know.   "This  man's  a  professor, 
and  he  doesn't  do  anything  else."  They're  always  very 
much  amazed  to  see  that  you  may  be  married  or  have 
a  family  or  something  like  that.  I  think  that  was 
particularly  true  in  my  case.  Lots  of  them  didn't 
know  I  wrote  books  at  all.  Sometimes  they'd  come 
around  and  be  surprised,  you  know,  when  they  found 

I  know  there  were  a  lot  who  did  know  about  it, 
and  did  like  my  books  and  very  possibly  took  some 
courses  because  I  was  a  writer,  but  I  was,  on  the 


Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 


whole,  very  little  conscious  of  it.  They  didn't  do 
much  about  it.  They  didn't  come  in  and  Mooh  and  ah" 
about  it. 

Did  they  bring  you  a  bunch  of  their  writing? 

No,  not  very  much.  Most  students  are  too  diffident 
to  do  that  sort  of  thing.  Except  for  the  students, 
of  course,  to  whom  I  was  giving  a  writing  course.   I 
didn't  encourage  it  either,  because  in  the  first 
place  almost  all  the  writing  would  be  bad,  and  in  the 
second  place,  you  can't  do  much  about  it.  At  least 
I  was  never  able  to  do  very  much  about  it.  You'd 
have  to  have  Just  exactly  the  right  student  in  the 
right  circumstances  where  you  could  say,  "Go  on  and 
do  something,"  and  that  doesn't  work  out  very  well. 
So  I  never  really  encouraged  them  to  hand  in  a  lot  of 
stuff,  except  again  the  students  I  had  in  the  writing 

Did  you  have  some  good  ones  there? 

Oh  yes.  I've  kept  up  with  some  of  them.  Over  a  long 
period  of  time  you  maybe  have  some  influence  on  them. 
Of  course  the  attitude  toward  the  teaching  of  writing 
is  a  strange  one  really.  A  student  takes  a  three 
hour  course  and  then  wonders  why  he  isn't  a  novelist. 
But  if  he  were  going  to  be,  say,  a  concert  pianist, 
he  would,  expect  to  take  years  and  years  of  lessons 
to  get  the  technique.  But  some  way  or  other,  writing 
is — the  idea  is  that  anybody  can  write,  if  you  Just 
have  a  little  bit  of  facility.  They  don't  work  hard 
enough  at  it. 

A  little  passion — 

Sometimes  it's  true.  There  are  people  who  don't  need 
any  more  than  that,  but  the  other  analogy  holds  to 
some  extent — again,  if  you're  trying  to  be  an  artist, 
you  would  take  years  and  years  of  expensive  lessons, 
and  all  sorts  of  training. 

Once.  I  think  it  has  changed. 

It  has  changed  a  good  deal  I  suppose  now. 
look  at  some  things  it  has,  anyway. 

Just  to 

A  lot  comes  with  natural  ability  in  all  those 
things.  That  used  to  be  my  answer  when  people  would 



•  • ,'  *  ' 


Stewart:  ask  me,  "Why  don't  they  teach  people  to  write  better? 
Why  can't  you  train  authors  In  the  university?"  I 
would  say,  "Well,  we  could  if  you  would  give  them  to 
us  for  five  or  ten  years.  Then  we  could  make  something 
out  of  them.  But  you  can't  do  it  in  one  semester." 

Riess:    What  writers  do  you  like  these  days? 

Stewart:  Well,  I've  read  so  much,  of  course,  it's  hard  for  me 
to  pick  out  what  I  really  like  or  approve  of  at  the 
present  time.  A  lot  of  things  I  don't  like.   I  could 
tell  you  something  about  that. 

For  instance,  I  don't  like  these  vague  and 
uncertain  things  that  you  don't  know  whether  to  take 
as  allegory  or  symbolism  or  whether  it's  a  real  story. 
I  sometimes  think  when  you  can't  tell  a  good  story 
you  call  it  symbolism.  That  sort  of  thing  I  don't 
like.  I  like  good  clean-cut  writing,  something  that 
goes  ahead  and  does  not  confuse  the  Issue  by  its 

Take  a  thing  like  Faulkner's  Absalom — most  of 
Faulkner,  not  all  of  Faulkner.  But  to  try  and  get 
into  that  book  and  try  to  get  down  what  it  really 
tells,  it's  a  quite  impossible  kind  of  melodrama, 
and  yet  it's  so  difficult  to  follow  what's  happening 
that  some  way  or  other  it  seems  very  important.  I 
can't  see  that  it  really  is,  when  you  get  right  down 
to  it.  That's  one  thing. 

I  like  Hemingway  tremendously,  good  Hemingway. 
I  think  he  has  in  some  respects  the  best  approach 
from  my  point  of  view.   I  don't  go  for  all  his  hooey 
on  certain  ideas,  but  I  like  his  approach,  his 

Riess:    You  mean  like  his  thing  about  courage,  and  manliness? 

Stewart:  I  like  courage.  No,  the  courage  idea  I  take  pretty 

well.   I  think  that's  what  counts  too.  I  don't  go 

for  his  super-manhood  necessarily,  no.  I'm  not  so 
much  for  that. 

Oh,  I  don't  know.  Ask  me  another  question*   I 
don't  seem  to  be  perking  on  that  one. 

Riess:    Well,  that  was  related  to  the  idea  that  I  don't  see 
how  a  person  can  teach  writing  anyway. 



Stewart:  Well,  one  thing  about  a  writing  course  in  a  university, 
is  that  it  gives  the  person  a  certain  amount  of  time 
to  work  at  it.  You  work  at  that,  and  you  can  get 
three  units  credit,  so  that  Justifies  spending  some 
time  from  the  point  of  view  of  the  university  on  it. 
I  think  that's  probably  what's  most  Important.  The 
student  can  get  the  association  with  some  other 
students  who  are  writing  too,  and  that  has  some 
importance.  And  he  can  get  something  out  of  the 
professor.   I've  Influenced  some  people,  I  know — 
Milton  Lott  did  very  well  on  the  novel  he  started  in 
that  class,  but  he  wasn't  particularly  complimentary 
to  me  because  he  says  what  I  really  accomplished  was 
I  told  him  to  get  started  writing,  and —  [laughing] 
he'd  been  fussing  around,  "should  I  do  it  this  way 
or  should  I  do  it  that  way?"  and  that  kind  of  thing. 
So  I  finally  Just  shoved  him  into  it  and  when  he  got 
going  he  was  fine.   Something  like  that  is  probably 
important.  After  all,  he  wrote  beautifully,  that 
part  of  that  book.  Then  he  never  really  got  going 
on  another  one.   I  think  he  published  three  books. 

Riess:    You  have  said  that  every  author  needs  three  books. 

Stewart:  Yes.  The  first  novel's  hard,  and  the  second  novel 
is  harder,  and  the  third  novel  is  hardest.   If  you 
get  by  the  third  novel,  then  you're  probably  all 
right.  Lots  of  people  never  get  beyond  the  first 
novel  of  course. 

Riess:    I  noted  that  Man  was  used  as  a  textbook  by  some 

Stewart:  It  was  used  to  some  extent  that  way,  yes. 
Riess:    What  do  you  think  of  that  idea? 

Stewart:   I  thought  it  was  fine.  It  was  a  good  textbook. 

[laughing]  It  never  really  went  too  far,  though. 
It's  oversimplified,  I  guess.  Didn't  appeal  to  the 
academic  mind  too  much. 

Riess:    Did  you  ever  do  any  additional  material  for  Man? 
Stewart:  No.  There  never  was  any  call  for  it. 

Riess:    There  was  a  point  where  you  were  thinking  of  doing 

"Man  in  the  Atomic  Age."  Maybe  it  was  being  reissued? 






Stewart:   I  don't  think  so,  but  I  did  a  little  introduction  for 
it,  not  so  long  ago,  for  a  French  edition.  There 
are  so  many  of  these  reprints,  I  can't  remember  them 
all.   I'm  not  sure  that  I've  ever  got  a  copy  of  that 
French  edition.   It  may  not  be  published  yet. 

Riess:    I  wondered  whether  you  had  ever  had  the  occasion  to 
update  American  Ways  of  Life? 

Stewart:   I  thought  about  that  very  definitely.   I  tried  to  get 
the  publisher  to  reissue  it,  and  they  thought  it 
ought  to  be  brought  up  to  date.  At  the  time  I  didn't 
think  there  was  much  sense  in  that.  About  the  only 
part  that  would  have  to  be  changed  very  much  would 
be  the  one  on  sex.  I  think  there  has  been  a  consider 
able  shift  in  that. 

Riess:    Did  you  read  the  Greening  of  America,  by  Charles 
Reich?   [Random  House,  1970] 

Stewart:  Yes. 

Riess:    What  did  you  think  of  that? 

Stewart:   It  didn't  impress  me  very  much.  I  didn't  think  that 
he  was  critical  enough.  His  classes — he  took  all  the 
best  possible  examples  in  each  one.  His  young  person 
was  Just  a  wonderful  young  person,  and  his  old  con 
servative  was  Just  a  wonderful  old  conservative.  You 
don't  get  those  people  in  too  large  numbers.  I  didn't 
think  too  much  of  it  for  that  reason. 

I  would  think  it's  the  kind  of  book  that  has 
been  read  a  great  deal,  and  probably  has  had  a 
considerable  amount  of  influence,  but  I  think  it's 
going  to  be  a  book  that  will  be  forgotten  very  fast. 
I  think  that  people  are  snatching  at  straws  around 
here  now.  He  was  about  the  only  optimistic  thing 
that  you  could  lay  your  hands  on.   I  don't  think  it 
will  be  a  book  which  has  a  very  long  lasting  influence, 






I  was  interested  in  some  other  ideas  in  your  files 
[Carton  6,  The  Bancroft  Library].   One  was  to  write 
the  story  of  a  god. 

Yes,  that's  an  idea  that  has  intrigued  me.   I  never 
did  it,  and  don't  think  I  ever  shall.  It's  been  done 
to  some  extent  by  various  people.  That  would  fit  in, 
you  see,  very  well  with  the  kind  of  thing  that  I 
work  with  at  times,  the  history  of  an  idea  put  into 
a  story.   That  was  to  have  the  god  talking,  you  see, 
himself.  His  career,  how  he  starts  as  a  small  god 
and  works  up  to  be  the  god  of  a  powerful  people. 
After  a  while,  of  course,  he  fades  out.  When  he  gets 
to  the  end,  all  that  is  left  of  him  now  is  the  fact 
that  when  we  say  "Eeny,  meeny,  miney,  moe,"  that's 
the  remnant  of  his  ritual.  As  long  as  children  say, 
"Eeny,  meeny,  miney,  moe,"  he  still  has  a  little  bit 
of  life. 

As  I  remember  it,  it  would  have  worked  out  that 
these  other  gods  tell  him,  "You're  gone.  You  have 
nothing  left."  And  he  has  to  hunt  around  until  he 
finds  children  saying  this,  so  that  he  can  still  keep 
on  going. 

In  notes  from  19^9  you  mention  your  satires, 
were  your  satires? 


Well,  those  were  some  little  things  I  wrote,  which 
my  agents  never  were  able  to  do  anything  with.  They 
probably  weren't  marketable,  but  I  liked  them.  They 
were  three  little  pieces,  Just  the  usual  trick — at 
least  it's  rather  usual  for  me — of  Just  changing  the 
rules  of  something  and  seeing  the  way  it  would  work. 
This  is  the  old  device  of  the  visitor  from  another 
world,  you  know.  One  section  was  the  question  of 
what  If  they  had  reversed  our  situation.  With  us 
the  intake  of  food  is  a  social  occasion,  but  you  see, 
the  elimination  of  food  is  obscene,  or  semi-obscene,  a 
thing  that  you  do  in  privacy.   I  Just  reversed  it 
the  other  way.  You  went  into  a  separate  compartment 
to  eat  your  food,  but  you  got  together  when  you  were 
eliminating  it.  That  was  the  idea  that  one  was  worked 
out  on.  The  others — I  don't  remember  exactly  how 
they  worked  out,  but  that  was  the  general  idea. 

I  would  like  to  know  what  the  other  two  would  have 
been I   You  can't  say  to  me  that  they  were  in  a 
similar  vein  and  Just  leave  it  at  that  I   [laughter] 


Stewart:  Well,  one  of  them  had  something  to  do  with  sex,  I 
remember  that.  I  can't  remember  exactly  how  I 
handled  that  one.  Ifve  still  got  copies  of  those 
things  around  somewhere.  They're  probably  In  the 
Bancroft  Library.  I'm  not  absolutely  sure.  I've 
got  a  little  bit  of  stuff  up  in  my  office.   I'd  be 
glad  to  have  you  read  it.   I've  got  several  things 
that  you  might  be  interested  in. 

Riess:  Oh.  And  I  wanted  to  find  out  what  happened  to  the 
unfinished  murder,  the  detective  story.  [Carton  5] 

Stewart:   Isn't  it  all  there? 

Riess:    Well,  the  files  are  labeled  "unfinished"  and  so  I 
took  you  at  your  word  that  it  was  unfinished. 

Stewart:   I  think  it's  probably  unfinished  in  the  sense  that  I 
never  sent  it  for  publication.   I  think  the  ending 
is  there.   It's  unfinished  in  a  qualitative  sense. 

Riess:    Because  that  would  seem  like  really  kind  of  a 
different  writing  for  you. 

Stewart:  Oh,  yes,  I  did  that  very  early  on.  That  must  have 
been  done  in  the  early  thirties,  before  I  had  ever 
published  a  novel. 

I  have  another  partial  manuscript  also,  that 
fits  in  with  those  things.  Oh,  I  got  sort  of  tired 
of  working  on  this.  It's  not  a  bad  idea,  though. 
This  was  again  the  change  in  the  rules  idea.  How 
you  work  out,  for  instance,  if  the  laws  of  gravity 
suddenly  changed,  what  would  happen?  Which  you  can 
work  out  pretty  well.  Of  course  you  don't  know  all 
the  side  effects. 

And  then  another  one — of  course  a  great  deal 
depends  upon  what  angle  the  earth's  axis  tips  at, 
and  there  are  lots  of  theories  that  it  has  changed 
its  position.  You  see,  if  you  consider,  say,  that 
it  changed  and  went  straight  up,  that  would  make 
absolutely  appalling  differences  in  the  world.  It 
would  change  the  climatic  cycles  completely.  Or  if 
you  changed  the  rate  of  the  spin  of  the  earth,  that 
would  do  all  sorts  of  things  that  you  don't  think 
of  offhand. 




Stewart:       I  was  going  to  carry  that  on  into  less  physical 

and  more  social  matters.  The  idea  has  always  Intrigued 
me,  for  instance,  that  if  all  the  males  in  the  world 
should  die,  it  would  be  a  very  interesting  situation. 
All  the  men,  say,  except  the  unborn  babies.  Then,  you, 
see,  the  race  would  carry  on  all  right,  but  you  would 
have  Just  terrific  social  problems.  There  would  be 
no  men,  and  carrying  on  the  mere  physical  set-up  of 
the  world  would  be  extremely  difficult  for  women. 
There 's  no  doubt  they  could  do  it,  but  there  are  so 
many  jobs  there  are  no  women  trained  for,  really  at 
all.  There  are  some  women  doctors.  They  would  be 
tremendously  outnumbered  of  course.  They  could  hardly 
carry  on.  But  there  are  very  few  women  engineers. 
They  are  perfectly  capable  of  doing  these  things,  but 
they  Just  wouldn't  know  how.  They'd  have  an  awful 
time  keeping  up  any  going  concern. 

Then  of  course  you'd  have  the  social  problem. 
Here  would  be  these  babies  born,  and  here  they'd  be 
growing  up  in  a  wholly  feminine  world,  all  these  older 
women  eyeing  them  speoulatively  as  they  approach 
puberty.  And  of  course,  whether  they  would  have  any 
interest  in  the  older  women,  whether  they  wouldn't  be 
much  interested  in  their  contemporaries,  the  girls 
that  were  growing  up.  So  you've  got  really  a  whole 
set-up  there.  That's  a  fantasy  that's  intriguing. 

I  had  another  book  I  was  figuring  on.   I  did  some 
work  on  it  too,  but  I  gave  that  up  because  it  faced 
too  many  of  the  same  problems  as  Earth  Abides.   I 
wanted  to  have  a  book  in  which  you  had  the  atomic 
destruction,  with  a  certain  number  of  people  surviving. 
I'll  bet  right  now  there  are  bombproof s  in  Texas  or 
someplace  where  people  are  stocked  to  live  for  years. 
If  you  had  as  much  money  as  some  of  these  people  in 
Texas,  wouldn't  you  do  that?  You  could  live  through 
almost  indefinitely.  It  would  be  difficult  to  work 
out,  but  you'd  get  yourself  a  pretty  good  hideout  I'd 
think,  stocked  with  enough  food,  and  air-purifying 
equipment.  If  you  have  enough  energy  you  can  do 
anything  like  that.   I  talked  that  over  with  chemists 
and  so  forth.  There  are  a  lot  of  interesting  ideas, 
but  I  felt  I  was  repeating  myself  too  much. 

Riess:    And  how  would  you  stand  on  the  whole  question  of 

what  kind  of  life  to  repeat  when  it  became  possible 
to  come  above  ground?  You  had  done  the  whole  fantasy 
of  Earth  Abides. 





Stewart:  Well,  that  was  part  of  the  trouble.   I  didn't  want  to 
start  the  whole  thing  over  again.  My  idea  on  this 
one  though,  was  not  to  deal  with  the  reconstruction. 
In  fact  I  was  rather  going  to  end  with  a  ship  coming 
in  from  Australia  or  something  like  that.   It  turned 
out  in  the  end  that  it  had  not  covered  the  whole 
earth;  there  was  still  a  sufficient  amount  of  the 
earth  left  habitable.  That  way  I  got  out  of  the 
problem  of  the  reconstruction.  Things  were  Just  as 
bad  as  ever,  in  other  words. 

Riess:    One  of  the  things,  of  course,  about  Earth  Abides. 
is  that  the  earth  isn't  devastated. 

Stewart:  That  was  definite  from  the  very  beginning.  Of  course 
that  was  conceived  before  the  time  of  the  atomic 
bomb.  In  a  way  it's  curious  people  were  interested 
as  much  in  it  as  they  were,  because  they  were  thinking 
so  much  in  terms  of  the  atomic  bomb — as  they  still  are, 
But  that  was  Inherent  in  the  book  from  the  very 
beginning,  the  fact  that  it  was  only  man  who  was 



INTERVIEW  IV,  Some  other  writers  and  poets: 
Hemingway,  H.L.  Davis,  Carl  Sandburg,  Robert  Frost; 
"stages"  of  writing  a  book  (maybe);  the  collected 
work  in  retrospect.   (Recorded  September  21,  1971) 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 



Stewart : 

My  wife  said  you  have  a  lot  of  questions  for  me,  and 
I  can  just  lie  back  and  answer  them. 

When  we  were  on  vacation,  I  read  the  Paris  Review 
interviews.  Do  you  know  the  series? 

Yes.  I  have  never  read  them  though. 

I  thought  that  I  would  come  to  this  interview  with 
you  more  or  less  as  if  I  had  never  been  here  before, 
and  treat  you  strictly  as  a  writer.   I  think  I've 
been  taking  you  on  your  word  as  a  university  person 
who  also  did  a  lot  of  writing,  and  now  I  want  to  think 
of  you  as  Just  a  writer. 

Did  you  subscribe  to  the  Paris  Review? 


Did  you  know  anybody  that  did? 

I  don't  remember  anybody, 

There  may  have  been, 

In  what  way,  in  the  twenties  and  thirties,  would  you 
have  been  following  contemporary  writing? 

In  the  twenties  I  did  not  follow  it  very  much.   In 
the  thirties  I  worked  around  to  it  more.   I  read 
reviews  like  the  New  York  Times — I  always  kept  in 
touch  with  that — which  gives  you  the  best  general 
coverage.  And  I  saw  other  reviews  too,  like  the 



Stewart : 





Stewart : 

Saturday  Review  and  the  Herald  Tribune  Books.   I  never 
got  Into  the  more  esoteric  reviews,  very  much. 

Was  there  a  group  of  people  In  Berkeley  who  were 
Interested  In  this  kind  of  expatriate  movement? 

I  don't  think  so  very  much.  Howard  Baker  and  Dorothy 
Baker  were  in  that  to  some  extent.  Howard  was  over 
there  during  the  twenties,  and  knew  Gertrude  Stein 
and  some  of  the  other  people.  He  was  about  the  only 
one  I  can  think  of  really,  around  Berkeley. 

Was  there  anybody  who  would  have  been  teaching  anything 
so  contemporary  on  campus? 

I  don't  think  we  went  in  much  for  contemporary  at 
that  time.   Of  course,  T.  K.  Whipple  was  doing  his 
writing  then,  and  he  was  probably  doing  something  on 
that  in  his  courses.  Do  you  know  his  work?  He  did  a 
book  or  two  on  contemporary  authors.  But  it  wasn't 
the  expatriate  particularly.  He  was  not  much  interested 
in  that.  He  wrote  more  on  people  like  Sinclair  Lewis, 
and  Willa  Gather.  A  more  American  group. 

Would  the  students  at  that  point  have  been  modelling 
themselves  on — for  instance,  what  was  the  effect  on 
writers  of  Hemingway's  The  Sun  Also  Rises? 

Oh.  Well,  that  had  quite  a  big  effect.  The  other 
Hemingway  books  too.  Farewell  to  Arms.  They  had  a 
big  effect,  I  think,  on  students  and  everybody  else. 
There  was  a  whole  Hemingway  wave  of  writing  at  that 
time.   It  never  affected  me  directly,  I  never  started 
writing  about  that  kind  of  thing,  but  I  think  his 
whole  general  attitude  affected  me  considerably. 

What  was  his  whole  general  attitude? 
sum  it  up? 

How  would  you 

I  opened  myself  up  on  that  one!  Well,  in  the  first 
place,  his  style,  that  marvelously  clean-cut  style 
with  which  he  wrote,  which  seems  to  me  so  far  removed 
from  Gertrude  Stein,  who  was  supposed  to  have  had  an 
influence  on  him.   They  seem  to  me  to  be  completely 
opposite  types.  And  I  think  that  certainly  had  its 
influence  on  me,  although  I  never  directly  imitated 


Stewart:      And  I  think  his  Ideas  had  an  Influence  too. 

That  is,  his  liking  to  get  close  to  the  subject,  and 
really  experience  what  he  was  writing  about,  which  I 
think  is  a  trait  with  Hemingway. 

Hiess:    To  experience  it  in  the  process  of  writing  about  it? 

Stewart:  No,  I  think  before  he  wrote  about  it. 

Hiess:    I  wanted  to  ask  you  about  literary  round-table  things. 

Stewart:  We  had  very  little  of  that,  as  far  as  I  was  in  contact 
with  it,  anyway.  I  think  not  enough.  I  remember 
Louis  Simpson,  the  poet,  was  out  here  in  the  department 
for  five  years  or  so,  and  one  reason  he  left  was  he 
didn't  think  we  had  enough  of  that  sort  of  thing.  He 
put  it  in  terms  of  street  cafes. 

Riess:    And  when  was  it  that  he  was  here? 

Stewart:  He  was  here  about  1955  *°  *62,  something  like  that. 

Hiess:    And  there  wasn't  anything  here  then? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  don't  know  that  it's  particularly  characteristic 
in  the  United  States  in  general,  is  it? 

Rless:    I  have  the  image,  correct  or  not,  of  places  like  the 

Stewart:  Yes,  there  is  some  of  that.  The  Southern  Review  group, 

Hiess:    I  guess  the  New  York  Algonquin  kind  of  people  were 
humorists  mostly. 

Stewart:  I  think  they  were  more  than  that.  They  were  critics. 

Riess:    It  opens  up  a  consideration  of  why  people  write.  It 
seems  almost,  for  some  of  the  people  who  write,  that 
if  there  were  that  sort  of  round  table  thing,  it 
would  take  a  lot  of  the  steam  off.  I  mean,  if  the 
point  of  writing  is  communication,  once  you've  done 
it,  you've  done  it. 

Stewart:  I  would  rather  go  along  with  that  opinion,  that  all 

this  talking  about  it  isn't  particularly  good.  There 
tend  to  be  people  who  talk  about  writing,  and  people 





Stewart  : 


who  write, 
that  idea. 

I  would  rather  tend  to  go  along  with 
Which  Is  what  you  were  suggesting. 

Stewart : 



I  know  that  you — having  seen  one  end  of  It — have  had 
a  very  long  correspondence  with  H.  L.  Davis,  and  I 
wondered  If  he  was  somebody  with  whom,  for  Instance 
in  your  letters,  you  would  develop  Ideas — or  whether 
there  was  anybody  with  whom  in  correspondence  you 
would  develop  ideas  for  a  book. 

No,  I  don't  think  there  was.  I  don't  think  I  ever 
developed  very  many  ideas  with  him.  There  are  a 
fair  number  of  letters  there,  but  of  course  it's 
spread  over  a  good  many  years  too.   It  was  not  a  very 
active  back  and  forth  conversation. 

It's  so  vivid  when  a  letter  comes. 

Yes,  he  was  a  marvelous  writer.  Now  he,  during  most 
of  that  time,  you  know,  had  a  fairly  frustrating 
career  as  a  writer.  Do  you  know  his  work? 


Well,  he  did  one  wonderful  book,  Honey  in  the  Horn.* 
He  never  really  got  together  with  himself  again.  He 
didn't  do  anything  for  quite  a  while  after  that. 
Then  he  did  write.  He  didn't  do  it  very  well.  And 
he  had — he  even  had  a  lot  of  financial  troubles, 
because  he  couldn't  keep  writing  very  well. 

He  wrote  a  wonderful  letter I   I  was  very  fond  of 
him.  He  was  a  very  curious  man,  as  so  many  writers 
are  of  course,  but  he  was  a  little  more  so  than  usual. 
He  had  sort  of  started  out  as  a  kind  of  hillbilly 
singer,  as  they  went  in  those  days.  He  did  it  with 
a  guitar.   One  of  the  great  evenings  in  my  life  was 
when  we  had,  over  at  the  house  on  San  Luis  Road,  let's 
see,  Carl  Sandburg  and  Bud  Bronson**  and  Harold  Davis 
all  there  singing. 

*H.L.  Davis,  Honey  in  the  Hom«  William  Morrow  Co., 
N.Y.,  1935- 

**Bertrand  H.  Bronson. 



Stewart:       You  don't  know  Bronson?  He's  a  professor  at 
Berkeley,  retired  now.  He  could  play  the  guitar 
all  around  them.  He's  a  much  better  guitar  player 
than  either  of  the  others.  But  he's  not  a  born 
performer,  you  see.  They  were  perfomers.   It  was 
wonderful.  They'd  pass  the  thing  back  and  forth, 
and  sing  different  songs.  That  was  a  wonderful  night. 

Riess:    Did  you  have  your  accordion  at  that  point? 

Stewart:  No,  I  kept  out  of  it.  I'm  not  in  that  class!   [laughter] 

Riess:    How  did  you  meet  Davis? 

Stewart:  Well,  he  used  to  live  up  on  Buena  Vista,  where  it 
goes  up  the  hill,  after  he'd  written  Honey  in  the 
Horn.   I  don't  know  exactly  how  I  first  met  him,  but 
through  some  neighbor  up  there.  Then  he  had  a  house 
up  in  Napa  Valley,  up  in  the  hills,  before  people  went 
to  Napa  Valley  much.  We  used  to  go  up  there  and  see 
him.  He  was  married  to  his  first  wife  then.  They 
were  fighting  some  of  the  time.  They  got  divorced 
before  too  long.  He  never  had  any  children.  He 
never  really  was  a  very  house-broken  man,  if  you  know 
what  I  mean.  He  was  always  living  in  a  mess  and 
drinking  coffee  all  the  time,  at  all  hours  of  the 
day,  thick  black  coffee,  keeping  a  horse  practically 
in  the  house.  That  was  the  general  style  of  life 
that  he  led. 

Riess:    A  Bohemian? 

Stewart:  Well,  he  would  have  scorned  that  title,   [laughter] 
I  wouldn't  call  him  a  Bohemian.  He  was  a  natural, 
really,  kind  of  a  natural  backwoodsman.  Always  plenty 
of  guns  around.  Not  much  of  a  drinker.  He  drank 
hardly  any  alcohol.  He  had  terrible  teeth.  His  teeth 
were  always  going  to  kill  him,  according  to  his  wife, 
and  I  guess  eventually  they  did. 

He  got  married  again  and  lived  down  in  Mexico, 
largely  because  it  was  cheaper,  but  also  because  he 
liked  it  down  there.  He'd  been  down  there  a  lot, 
and  Betty,  his  second  wife,  had  been  too.   We  saw 
them  some  also.  And  they'd  come  back  up  here 
occasionally.  He  had  quite  an  interesting  career. 

Then  he  got  gradually  sicker  and  sicker  and  poorer 
and  poorer.  They  had  a  little  house  down  in  Oaxaca. 



Stewart : 

Stewart : 


They  managed  to  live  one  way  or  another.   I  suppose 
she  picked  up  a  few  Jobs,  acting  as  a  guide.  She 
spoke  very  good  Spanish.  She'd,  acted  as  a  guide 
for  tourists,  and  I  suppose  they  kept  going  one  way 
or  another.  He  got  sicker  and  sicker.  Finally  he 
had  to  have  a  leg  amputated.  I  don't  know  exactly 
what  he  died  of,  but  I  think  It  was  his  teeth  or 
something  like  that.  He  never  took  any  care  of 

Did  he  have  an  attitude  about  it? 
thing  of  principle? 

Did  he  make  It  a 

No,  I  don't  think  so.  I  think  he  Just  liked  to  live 
that  way,  and  he  did  it.   "I  have  paid  my  price  to 
live  with  myself  on  the  terms  that  I  willed.11  Ever 
hear  that? 

No.  You  say  it  like  you're  quoting  it. 

I  am.  That's  from  Kipling,  a  part  of  Kipling  nobody 
ever  knows.*  I  always  appreciated  the  line.  I  think 
it  applied  to  Harold  too. 

After  he  died,  everybody  started  worrying  about 
his  wife,  how  she  was  going  to  live,  on  what.   It 
seemed  to  me  she  could  probably  take  care  of  herself 
better  without  him  than  with  him,  because  he  wasn't 
bringing  in  much  money.  But  just  about  the  time  they 
started  worrying  about  her,  why,  she  married  a 
millionaire,   [laughter]  In  fact,  she  married  Harold's 
publisher.  She  was  quite  a  person  too,  his  second 

According  to  legend,  at  least,  Harold  was  her 
fourth  husband,  and  her  other  husband  was  the  fifth. 
I'm  not  sure  about  that — she's  been  married  at  least 
three  times  I  know,  but  I  wouldn't  guarantee  the  five. 
I  always  said  she  was  a  professional  wife.  That  is, 
she  had  to  be  married  to  somebody,  taking  care  of 
them.  She  is  a  very  nice  person.  When  we  last  heard, 
he  was  in  Australia  raising  goats. 

Sandburg  was  here  then  too. 

Was  he  a  friend  of 

*Kipling,  "Epitaphs,"  Vol.  28,  Scrlbners,  1919- 


Stewart:  He  became  quite  a  good  friend  toward  the  end  of  his 
life.   It  happened  accidentally.  He  came  out  here 
one  time  to  lecture,  and  he  expected  to  be  put  up. 
The  person  who  was  handling  him  for  the  University 
asked  if  we  wanted  to  have  him  for  a  guest,  and  we 
said  sure.   So  he  came  out  to  see  us,  and  then  he 
stayed  with  us  several  times  after  that.  We  got  to 
know  him  very  well. 

He  was  with  us  the  last  time  when  he  came  out, 
and  he'd  really  gone  to  pieces.  He  should  have 
stayed  at  home.  That  was  a  terrible  thing.  He  was 
Just  gone. 

Hiess:    Was  he  sick? 

Stewart:  He  was  senile.  He  shouldn't  possibly  have  been  trying 
to  put  on  a  show.  He  couldn't  remember  the  words  of 
his  own  songs.  He  just  hung  on  too  long.  He  brought 
his  wife  along  that  time,  to  take  care  of  him.  She 
did  what  she  could,  but  she  couldn't  help  him  out  on 
the  platform. 

Riess:    When  you  knew  him  earlier,  was  he  the  kind  of  person 
you  could  talk  to  about  what  he  was  doing? 

Stewart:  Oh  yes,  he  was,  very  much.  He  was  always  talking 

about  his  songs,  singing  with  his  guitar.  He  was  a 
very  pleasant  fellow.   I  liked  him.  And  of  course, 
Frost  came  out  in  those  years  too,  you  know.  We  never 
had  them  together.  They  were  an  interesting  contrast 
in  many  ways.  Of  course  they  hated  each  other.   It 
wouldn't  have  been  a  good  idea  to  have  them  together, 
though  it  might  have  been  fun. 

Hiess:    Why  did  they  hate  each  other? 

Stewart:  They  were  very  different  types.  I  can  see  why  they 

didn't  get  along  at  all.  They  were  both  great  actors. 
People  don't  realize  that,  about  Frost  particularly. 
Frost  was  a  great  actor.  He  played  his  part  very 
well.  Sandburg  was  a  great  actor  tool   They  played 
different  parts. 

I  think  Robert  always  rather  liked  me,  because 
he  realized  I  saw  through  his  part.  Most  people 
didn't,  you  know.  Most  people  thought  he  was  really 
this  great  humanist,  and  so  forth.  He  was  actually 
something  different  from  that.  He  was  a  great 






Stewart:   conservative,  you  see,  really. 
Sandburg  was  a  real  liberal. 

Almost  reactionary, 

I  always  thought  one  of  the  most  interesting 
times  we  ever  had  with  that  pair  was  the  time  when 
Frost  talked  at  the  Inaugural.  Do  you  remember  that? 
The  Kennedy  Inaugural?  And  Sandburg  happened  to  be 
staying  with  us  at  that  time.  He  never  got  up  till 
late,  ordinarily,  but  he  came  padding  up  the  stairs 
early  that  morning  to  hear  the  ceremonies.  He  never 
carried  any  clothes  with  him.  He  carried  one  suit, 
and  I  don't  think  he  had  a  pair  of  slippers.  He  came 
padding  up  in  some  kind  of  old  bathrobe  I  think  we'd 
probably  lent  him  [laughing].  He  came  up  to  hear 
this.  He  was  delighted  when  Robert  forgot  his  part. 
I  never  believed  that  at  all,  I  always  believed  — 

Riess:    You  didn't  believe  he'd  forgotten  his  part? 

Stewart:  No.  No.   I'm  a  complete  cynic.  That  was  a  beautiful 
piece  of  acting.   One  of  the  best  things  he  ever  did. 
Of  course  my  wife  was  always  telling  him  to  get  some 
glasses.  He  never  could  see  anything,   [laughter] 

In  the  first  place,  he  was  supposed  to  write  a 
poem  for  the  Inaugural,  which  he  shouldn't  have  done, 
because  he  didn't  support  Kennedy.  He  didn't  like 
Kennedy.  Of  course,  Carl  should  have  had  the  Job 
really,  because  he'd  been  an  out  and  out  supporter  of 
Kennedy  way  back.  But  the  Kennedys  of  course  asked 
Frost,  probably  never  even  thought  of  Sandburg.  But 
he  would  have  put  on  a  good  show. 

Well,  you  see  this  is  my  interpretation.  In 
the  first  place,  Frost  couldn't  write  a  very  good 
poem  for  the  Inaugural,  because  his  heart  wasn't  in 
it,  you  see.  He  Just  couldn't  turn  out  a  poem  on 
something  he  didn't  want;  so  he  wrote  this  terrible 
thing.  Then  he  started  to  read  it.  Either  he  broke 
down,  or  else  he'd  planned  to  break  down.  So  he 
said  he  couldn't  see  it,  and  everybody  thought,  "Oh, 
the  poor  man,  the  poor  man."  There  wasn't  a  dry  eye 
in  the  audience. 

Then  he  said,  "Well,  let  me  recite  this  other 
poem."  He'd  never  been  a  patriot,  you  see,  at  all. 
He'd  been  an  expatriate  part  of  his  life,  and  he 
never  supported  the  New  Deal  or  anything.  He  was 
kind  of  reactionary.  The  only  poem  he'd  ever  written 


Stewart:  In  his  whole  life  which  had  any  possible  application 
to  a  thing  of  this  sort  was,  you  know,  "The  land  was 
ours  before  we  were  the  land's.11*  That's  the  way  it 
starts.  So  he  recited  that.  And  that  was  close 
enough  to  it  that  he  got  by  with  it. 

Then  the  platform  started  to  burn  up!   Do  you 
remember  that? 

Riess:    Yes!  The  platform  smoking  and  everybody  looking 
down  around  their  feet. 

Stewart:  Yes.  And  there  was  Carl  Sandburg  watching  this 
[laughing]  in  our  house. 

Riess:    That's  very  funny. 

Stewart:  Well,  that's  heresy  of  me  to  say  that,  but  that's  how 
it  looked  to  me. 

Frost — did  I  tell  you  about  the  time  we  took 
him  up  to  Nicasio  once?  Well,  he  was  out  here  and 
he  wanted  to  go  to  a  place  he  called  Nicasha.  We'd 
never  heard  of  it.  Finally,  Ted  figured  out  it  was 
this  place  called  Nicasio  [Spanish  pronunciation]. 
So  we  got  him  into  the  car  and  drove  him  up  there. 
It's  a  nice  little  place. 

The  reason  he  wanted  to  go  there  was  that  he'd 
spent  a  summer  there  on  vacation  with  his  family, 
with  his  mother,  when  he  was,  I  think — either  three 
or  five  years  old.  He  was  very  young  anyway.  And 
he  was  nostalgic.   He  wanted  to  see  the  place,  and 
see  what  It  was  like.  So  we  drove  him  up  there.  It 
was  a  lovely  day.  He  thought  he  recognized  the  general 
location,  but  otherwise  he  couldn't  recognize  anything. 
The  old  hotel  where  he'd  stayed  which  he  thought  he 
might  remember,  had  burned  down,  so  he  didn't  see 
that.  He  went  all  around  trying  to  find  something. 
He  couldn't  find  anything.  We  had  a  nice  time.  The 
chief  thing  he  remembered,  when  he  was  up  there,  was 
playing  croquet  with  a  little  girl  and  she  hit  him 
on  the  head  with  a  mallet,  practically  killed  him.   I 
suppose  that's  in  the  biographies,  but  maybe  not. 

*From  The  Gift  Outright. 


Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Then  coming  back,  along  the  Embarcadero  down 
there,  he  said,  "Another  boy  and  I  stole  a  pig  down 
here  one  time,  and  carried  it  off.  It  was  mostly 
the  other  boy.  He  was  older,  but  I  went  along."  He 
was  a  boy  in  San  Francisco,  you  remember. 


You  said  Frost  was  an  expatriate? 


He  was  for  a  while,  literally.  He  was  an  uninvolved 
man.  He  didn't  tie  in  very  much  with  what  was  going 

In  this  country,  you  mean? 

Yes.  Well,  you  know  that  poem,  "Two  Tramps  in  Mud 
Time."  That's  sort  of  his  platform. 

It's  funny  that  the  Kennedys  chose  him,  as  probably 
the  essence  of  what  they  think  of  as  New  England. 

I  think  it  was  natural  enough  they  chose  him,  because 
he's  a  great  poet.  He  was  the  best  figure  to  tie 
the  old  and  the  new  together.  He  was  better  than 
Sandburg  that  way,  at  least  if  you  look  at  it  from 
the  outside. 

Archibald  MacLeish? 

Well,  Archibald  MacLeish  is  my  man.   I  would  rather 
have  his  poetry  than  almost  any  of  them.  But  not 
so  many  feel  that  way. 

I'm  using  this  word  expatriate,  and  I'm  really  not 
sure  in  what  sense  it's  meant.  For  instance,  when 
you  went  to  Mexico  to  write,  were  you  then  an 
expatriate  ? 

Well,  it's  a  vague  term.  It  means  a  person  who  lives 
outside  the  country,  particularly  the  United  States. 
I  don't  know  that  it's  referred,  to  in  other  countries 
particularly.  I  wouldn't  say  being  away  for  a  year 
would  put  you  in  that  class.  Although  the  state  of 
mind  rather  than  the  length  of  time  would  be  what 
determines  it. 

Well,  what's  the  state  of  mind?  That  America's  an 
impossible  place  to  get  anything  done  in? 


Stewart:  Yes. 

Rless:    Did  you  know  Scott  Fitzgerald  or  Edmuond  Wilson  at 

Stewart:  I  knew  Scott  Fitzgerald.   I  never  met  Edmuond  Wilson, 
until  later.  He  was  in  the  class  ahead  of  me,  and 
the  place  was  big  enough  even  then  that  you  didn't 
know  people  so  much  outside  of  your  own  class.  I 
knew  Scott  Fitzgerald.  Not  well  at  all.  We  were 
very  different  types.  We  wouldn't  have  known  each 
other  particularly.   I  remember  being  in  a  couple  of 
small  classes  with  him.  He  was  a  very  brilliant 
fellow.  Of  course  he  flunked  out,  along  about  halfway, 
because  he  never  did  any  work.  But  he  came  back  and 
got  his  degree,  I  think. 

I  think  if  I  ever  write  my  chapter  on  Princeton 
for  my  autobiography,  I'm  going  to  give  it  the  title, 
"Oh  Yes,  I  Once  Saw  Scotty  Plain." 

Riess:    You  once  saw  Scotty  what? 

Stewart:  Plain.  That's  Browning's  poem,  "Did  you  once  see 
Shelley  plain?" 

Riess:    In  his  introduction  to  the  first  series  of  the 

Paris  Review  interviews,  Malcolm  Cowley  points  out 
that  the  idea  of  these  interviews  is  new.  I  thought 
it  was  surprising  that  it  didn't  begin  until  the 

Stewart:  Well,  it's  partly  mechanical.  It  becomes  so  easy 
to  talk  with  people  when  you've  got  a  machine  like 
this,  you  see.  That's  one  big  thing.  So  much  of  our 
life  is  determined  by  mechanical  reasons  when  you 
come  down  to  it.  But  there  certainly  was  a  lot  of 
interest,  say,  in  Henry  James  and  his  craft.  Nobody 
could  have  been  more  interested,  and  written  more 
about  it,  really,  than  he  did. 

Riess:  Cowley  looked  at  all  the  writers  interviewed  and 
compared  them  at  four  stages  in  writing.  First, 
getting  the  "germ"  of  the  story — 

Stewart:  Yes.   I  think  you  have  to  do  that,  sometimes. 
Riess:    Now,  don't  be  difficult  about  all  this  I   [laughter] 

Then  there's  the  meditation  period,  and  then 
there's  the  first  draft,  and  then  there's  the 

Stewart:  I  don't  know  what  he  means  by  meditation;  maybe  I 
would  change  some  things  about  that  second  one. 

Riess:    Meditation  is  going  about  your  normal  business  and 
yet  your  mind  is  working  and  working  on  the  idea. 

Stewart:  Well,  that  certainly  is  true.  You  certainly  have  to 
do  that.   In  a  sense  you're  appraising  the  idea. 
After  all,  you  put  a  pretty  big  investment  in  a  book, 
and  you  don't  want  to  do  it  unless  you  think  this  is 
the  book  you  want  to  do.   I  think  that's  largely  it. 
It's  appraising.  You're  seeing  what  the  difficulties 
are,  what  the  weaknesses  of  the  whole  thing  are, 
what  it's  advantages  are,  whether  it's  a  book  you 
want  to  do. 

And  then,  in  most  of  my  books,  I  would  have  to 
put  in  another  phase.  After  meditation  comes — well, 
I  hate  to  use  the  term  research,  but  that's  probably 
the  term  you'd  have  to  use.   It  isn't  so  much  research 
as  it  is  getting  your  material  together,  which  may 
not  attain  the  level  of  actual  research.   It  may,  of 
course.  You  can't  tell.  That  was  always  a  big  stage 
with  me.  Of  course  the  meditation  is  an  indefinite 
length  or  period.  That  might  run  into  years  as  far 
as  that's  concerned.  You're  not  really  doing  any 
work,  so  that  doesn't  count  very  much,  as  time  goes. 

But  the  research,  or  the  background  work,  on 
Storm  and  Fire,  took  more  time  than  the  writing  of 
the  book.  And  the  same  with  some  of  my  other  books 
too,  I  should  say.  So  I  would  have  to  say  that 
there's  a  period  when  you  have  to  gather  Information, 
gather  material.   I  should  think  that  would  be  true 
of  a  great  many  writers,  even  if  they're  not  writing 
books  which  are  like  my  books.  I  suppose  you  could 
count  that  in  as  the  meditation,  but  for  almost  any 


Stewart:  story,  you've  got  to  work  up  something.  You  don't 
know  everything  about  it.  You  want  to  know  whether 
they  have  balconies  on  the  rooms  of  a  hotel,  or 
something  like  that,  or  how  the  balconies  are  made. 
Something  like  that,  some  kind  of  technical  point  you 
get  into.  You  don't  want  to  stop — at  least  you 
shouldn't  have  to  stop — in  the  middle  of  writing  a 
book  and  go  out  and  find  out  about  things  like  that. 
They  ought  to  be  with  you  already.  So  I  say  that 
you  would  have  that. 

And  then,  of  course,  obviously  you've  got  to 
write  the  first  draft.  The  chief  differences  among 
writers,  as  you  say,  would  come  in  how  you  go  about 
that.   I  always  did  a  fast  first  draft.  I  wrote  one 
very  rapidly,  particularly  after  I  got  dictating 
equipment.   I  could  tear  through — I've  done,  occasionally 
as  many  as  five,  maybe  six  thousand  words  in  a  day, 
which  is  very  fast.  At  that  rate  you  get  a  first  draft 
in  a  very  short  time,  a  book  of  ordinary  length. 
Because  a  hundred  thousand  words  is  a  fairly  long 
novel.  That's  only  about  sixteen  days  at  that  rate! 

Riess:    When  do  you  stop?  Do  you  stop  at  a  point  where  you 

know  exactly  what  the  next  word  will  be?  Do  you  stop 
at  an  up  point  or  a  down  point? 

Stewart:   I  would  usually  stop  when  I  get  tired.  You  get  to 
the  point  where  you  start  skipping,  and  think,  "Oh, 
that  isn't  worth  writing  about."  Then  you  realize 
you're  tired,  and  you  quit.   I  never  have  any  trouble 
picking  up  the  thread  again.   I  pick  it  up  immediately, 
and  go  on.  But  I  couldn't  take  more  than  so  much, 
Just  from  the  matter  of  either  physical  or  mental 
weariness.  As  I  say,  if  you  get  to  the  point  where 
it  doesn't  seem  worthwhile,  then  you  quit  fast.  That 
would  usually  come,  say,  In  about — when  I  was  really 
going  strong  I  would  dictate  in  the  morning  maybe 
two  hours  and  a  half,  and  then  maybe  do  an  hour  in 
the  afternoon.  That  would  be  working  hard.  Usually 
I'd  do  less  than  that. 

When  I  say  five  or  six  thousand  words,  that 
would  be  a  very  occasional  day.  That's  probably  too 
much  to  do,  because  you  would  be  getting  tired,  at 
least  I  would  be  getting  tired.  It's  better  to 
figure  that  you  can  do  two  or  three  thousand.  You 
get  through  a  book  fast  enough  that  way.  And  then 
it  makes  a  difference — some  people  don't  write  that 



Stewart:  way.  Some  people  write  very  slowly  and  finish  it 
off  completely.  There's  only  one  draft.  I  think 
Cowley*  oversimplified  a  little  on  that,  because  I 
think  there's  more  variety  in  the  way  people  work. 

Riess:    He  was  noting  the  variety.  For  instance,  Hemingway 
went  back  to  the  start  each  day. 

Stewart:  Yes,  I've  heard  that.   I  don't  see  how  he  could  do 
that  literally.  What  he  said  was,  I  think,  that  he 
read  the  whole  manuscript  over  before  he  started 
again.   I  don't  see  how  he  could  do  that  literally 
in  a  book  of  any  length.  Just  wouldn't  have  time, 
and  I  think  you'd  wear  yourself  out  reading  it  over 
before  you  picked  up  on  the  story.  But  that's 
Hemingway,  and  you'd  have  to  take  his  word,  I  suppose. 

Talking  about  myself,  I  would  say  that  I  didn't 
read  it  over  very  much.  I'd  dictate  it  and  get  the 
typing  back  from  the  secretary,  then  I'd  usually  read 
it  over  and  Just  correct  all  the  gross  mistakes,  the 
places  where  the  secretary  didn't  hear  the  right  word 
and  that  kind  of  thing.  I  wouldn't  do  much  more 
with  it,  till  I  got  the  whole  thing  done.  Then  I'd 
go  back  and  do  it  over  very  carefully,  several  times. 
I  figured  I  would  read  it  five  times,  go  through  it 
five  times,  counting  the  first  draft. 

Riess:    Would  you  pencil  in  changes  or  did  you  dictate  again? 

Stewart:   I  usually  would  not  dictate  again.   I  would  get  it 
transcribed  triple  space,  to  leave  a  lot  of  space 
to  work  with.   I  also  worked  at  the  mechanical 
problem,  the  most  difficult  one,  of  inserting  something 
in  the  middle.   I  had  a  paper-cutter.  I'd  Just  cut 
the  page  straight  across  and  then  staple  it  with  a 
stapling  machine.   Cut  the  whole  thing  through,  put 
a  sentence  in  and  go  on.  You  see.  Otherwise,  you'd 
begin  to  think  again,  oh,  it's  Just  too  much  trouble. 
I  can't  be  bothered.  How  can  I  get  that  sentence  in? 

You  ought  to  take  a  look  at  some  of  those  first 
draft  manuscripts  in  the  Bancroft.  Each  one  got  to  be 

*I  should  call  him  Malcolm  since  we're  good  friends. 


Stewart : 

a  mess  before  I  got  through, 
different  things. 

Then  I  would  work  at 


Stewart : 

Stewart : 


Stewart : 
Stewart : 

In  the  second  draft,  of  course,  I  established 
the  story.  That's  what  it's  going  to  be,  when  you 
get  through  the  second  draft.  If  there  are  any  large 
things  to  do,  you  do  them  then.  You  put  in  a  whole 
page  or  two  at  one  place,  then  you  cut  out  a  couple 
of  things  somewhere  else.  You  do  all  the  big  work — 
new  incidents,  perhaps.  By  the  time  you  get  through 
the  second  draft  you  have  a  pretty  good  set-up. 

Then  the  third  time,  I  went  through  it  primarily 
for  details  of  style,  wording,  and  details.  I  learned 
something  about  myself  eventually  which  I  hadn't 
realized  before.  My  focus  is  not  upon  words  but  upon 
structure.  I  will  go  to  any  pains  to  get  the  word 
order  properly.  I  don't  care  nearly  so  much  about 
the  mot  Juste.   I  discovered  that  about  myself  after 
many  years.  That  comes  in  the  third  and  fourth  times 

What  do  you  mean  by  word  order  "proper?" 


Well,  "proper"  essentially  is  so  that  the  person  reads 
it  through  without  a  break,  so  that  you  don't  skip 
back  and  say  "What  was  that  attached  to?"  The  whole 
thing  goes  right  straight  through. 

You  read  your  things  aloud,  don't  you? 

The  fifth  time  I  read  it  aloud.  That  was  largely 
focused  on  rhythm  and  the  way  it  sounded. 


Isn't  that  quite  unusual? 

I  think  it  is.   I  don't  know  anybody  else  that  ever 
did  that.  Actually,  I  suppose  people  do. 

I  should  think  a  lot  of  books  wouldn't  see  the  light 
of  day,  if  the  author  had  to  read  them  aloud. 

Well,  that  might  be  a  good  thing. 
That  seems  like  a  hard  test. 

Well,  it's  very  interesting.  You  get  things  you  don't 
catch  otherwise,  you  see.  Usually  I  read  it  aloud  to 



Stewart:  myself,  because  If  you're  reading  to  somebody  else 
you  don't  want  to  stop  and  figure  it  out  and  make 

And  of  course  another  thing  you  have  to  watch 
is  that  you  can  carry  a  great  deal  with  your  voice. 
You've  got  to  realize  that  this  may  sound  all  right, 
but  it  won't  go  to  the  reader.   Of  course  that's 
pretty  well  worked  out  in  the  third  and  fourth  times 

I  found  I  didn't  pause  for  words  very  much. 
Maybe  that  was  the  reason  I  wasn't  so  much  concerned 
with  them.  But  I  had  a  good  vocabulary  and  I  was  at 
home  in  my  own  vocabulary.   I  think  that's  the  great 
thing.  This  person  who  sweats  over  a  word  doesn't 
really  know  what  he  wants  to  say. 

About  that  vocabulary  business,  I  suppose  I  have 
a  very  large  vocabulary  from  my  natural  background, 
my  profession.  People  think  I  have  a  wonderful 
memory.   I'm  not  sure  that  that's  the  point.  What  I 
would  say  about  my  memory  is  that  it's  under  control. 
It  gives  me  what  I  want  when  I  want  it,  a  very  nice 
thing.   I  think  that  worked  out  in  the  vocabulary  also, 

What  amuses  me  is  that  every  now  and  then,  even 
yet,  I'll  use  a  word  and  realize  that  I  never  used 
that  word  in  my  life  before  I   Where  do  these  things 
come  from?  That's  not  only  with  me,  but  people  in 
general.  You're  carrying  this  word  somewhere,  and 
all  of  a  sudden  it  happens  to  be  the  word  you  want. 
And  you  never  used  it  before. 

Riess:    I  was  wondering  about  the  first  writing,  whether  you 
can  describe  the  sensation  of  where  the  words  do  come 

Stewart:  Oh,  well,  that's  Just  the  same  way  they  come  when  you 
talk.   It's  no  different  from  that.  I  tried  in  my 
first  draft,  particularly  with  dictating,  to  think  of 
it  as  talking.   I  didn't  worry  whether  I  got  it  the 
way  I  wanted  it  particularly,  the  way  I  wanted  it 
exactly.  Of  course,  the  better  you  can  get  it  the 
first  time,  the  better,  but  I  didn't  stop  to  do  it 
all  that  carefully.  The  thing  is  to  get  it  out,  get 
it  on  paper,  essentially. 



Stewart : 


Stewart ; 


Stewart ; 
Stewart ! 

Stewart : 

Well,  some  writers  have  described  the  sensation  of 
almost  being  dictated  to  themselves,  as  if  they 
were  the  medium. 

Yes.   I  don't  think  I'd  ever  say  that, 
a  figure  of  speech. 

I  guess  it's 

What  is  a  nice  feeling  is  when  you  come  back  to 
your  dictation  that's  been  transcribed  and  you 
realize,  "It  wasn't  as  bad  as  I  thought  it  was!" 
You  feel  that  it  really  came  out  pretty  well.  That's 

As  far  as  getting  the  ideas,  if  you're  a  writer, 
naturally  you're  looking  for  things  to  write  abont. 
Even  if  you're  only  trying  to  be  a  writer,  naturally 
you're  looking  for  things.  You  get  probably  a  good 
many  ideas.  I  don't  think  they're  as  rare  as  all 
that,  but  you  can't  use  them  all.  Some  of  them  you 
test  out.  This  meditation,  for  instance,  results  in 
throwing  a  good  many  ideas  away. 

This  "germ"  seems  to  be  the  point  that  organizes  a 
whole  lot  of  disorganized  material  that's  already 
been  around. 

Yes.  I  think  it's  quite  an  interesting  mental  process, 
because  it  does  seem  to  come  with  all  its  parts  put 
together.  Your  mind  works  so  fast  on  it  that  you  see 
the  thing,  a  very  large  part  of  it,  very  quickly. 

That  goes  back  at  least  to  Henry  James.  Henry 
James  wrote  about  that,  about  what  he  called  I  think 
"the  prick  of  the  virus,"  whatever  he  meant  by  that. 

Implying  that  your  body  has  to  be  ready  and  waiting 
to  accept  the  disease? 

Well,  "I  could  write  a  story  about  that." 
What  do  you  mean  by  that? 

I  mean  that's  when  you  get  the  idea.   "I  could  do 
something  on  that.  Yes." 

Oh,  I  see  what  you  mean. 

"I  could  do  that.  That  might  be  kind  of  good." 

As  I  say,  a  great  many  of  them  get  left  by  the  wayside, 


Stewart:  because  you  don't  have  enough  time  to  write  them  all. 

Rless:    In  an  interview  once  you  were  quoted  as  saying,  "I 
think  with  Emerson  that  a  man  Just  has  to  watch  for 
those  flashes  which  sometimes  come  to  him." 

Stewart:  Yes.  I  agree  with  that.  There  is  a  certain  point 

at  which  these  ideas  come.  I  don't  record  it,  because 
I  don't  keep  a  diary.  If  I  had  kept  a  diary  I  would 
have  written  down  things  like  that.   "I  had  this  idea 
today."  That's  the  sort  of  thing  that  Emerson  does. 

Riess:    You  didn't  put  them  in  your  book  of  dates  and  events. 
Stewart:   No. 

Take  a  thing  like  Man,  now,  that  must  have  come, 
obviously,  as  an  idea,  one  of  those  flashes.  That's 
the  only  way  it  could  come.  But  I  don't  remember 
when  that  came. 

Riess:    And  in  the  writing,  do  ideas  come  up  that  you  have 
to  put  aside,  because  they're  not  clearly  part  of 
whatever  it  is  that  you're  working  on? 

Stewart:  That's  very  difficult  to  answer  for  me.  I've  wondered 
about  that  in  the  general  way.  Just  what  is  the 
difference  between  an  idea  and  a  finished  work  of 
art,  say?  There  is  a  difference,  but  Just  what  makes 
It  Is  hard  to  say. 

Of  course  most  writers  put  in  a  lot  that  they 
shouldn't  put  in,  as  a  matter  of  fact;  to  cover  up 
a  small  amount  of  essential  material  there's  a  lot  of 
lighting  the  cigarette  and  description  of  the  hero's 
hair  and  eyes.  That's  one  of  the  big  tests  of  course, 
whether  as  a  writer  you  can  transform  the  germ  into 
something  that  stands  up  on  itself,  which  is  a  story 
or  a  work  of  art — whatever  you  want  to  call  it. 

Have  I  used  my  phrase,  "Don't  state,  demonstrate" 
with  you?  That  used  to  be  one  of  my  slogans  when  I 
taught  writing.  That's  very  important.  Never, 
theoretically  at  least,  never  make  a  statement  about 
a  character.  Always  show  the  character  in  action. 
I  think  that's  one  of  the  basic  things  about  writing 
fiction.   If  you  write,  for  instance,  "he  was  a  great 
wit,"  that's  useless.  If  you  can't  show  him  making  a 


Stewart:   Joke,  you'd  better  leave  it  out.  You'd  better  make 
him  something  else. 

In  the  same  way,  stories  about  poets  are  not 
very  good,  unless  you  can  write  the  poetry  for  them 
which  you  probably  can't.  Stories  about  painters 
are  all  right.  Nobody  expects  you  to  give  the  drawing, 
or  painting.  There  are  some  things  you  can't  help 
yourself  on.  You've  got  to  describe  the  heroine. 
But  after  all,  there's  nothing  duller  than  to  describe 
a  beautiful  girl.  That  doesn't  get  you  anywhere.  You 
have  to  show  her  in  action.  You  have  to  show  the 
effect  she  has  on  people.  That  goes  clear  back  to 
the  Iliad.  You  know  that  magnificent  section  in  the 
third  book  there  where  Helen  comes  out  on  the  wall  and 
even  the  old  men  are  impressed.  That's  a  wonderful 
passage.  I  don't  think  Helen's  ever  described.  But 
you  know  she's  there,  when  she  comes  out. 

Something  that  has  interested  me  is  the  question 
of  what  I  call  the  motive  power  of  a  novel.  That  is, 
what  makes  one  thing  more  important  than  another? 
You  have  the  whole  world  before  you.  Why  should  you 
choose  to  write  about  some  things  and  not  about  others?* 

Of  course,  I'm  a  plot  man.   I  still  stick  by  the 
plot  idea.  The  microcosm.  You  start  from  a  point  of 
rest.   (I'm  getting  into  my  course  again,  here.) 
You  pass  through  a  period  of  uncertainty,  and  you 
end  on  a  point  of  rest.  And  there  you've  got  a  plot. 
That's  the  way  all  good  plotted  stories,  including 
dramas,  have  to  be  conceived.  You  have  to  choose  the 
things  that  determine  this  movement,  this  uncertainty, 
so  that  eventually  you  eliminate  what  is  not  getting 
there,  and  you  arrive  at  a  point  of  rest. 

*[addltional  material  dictated  in  response  to  a  request 
for  expansion  of  this  discussion,  15  March  1972] 

You  suggest  that  I  have  not  answered  the  question 
that  I  have  raised  about  the  "motive  power  of  a  novel." 
I  think  that  I  really  have  answered  it  fairly  well  in 
what  I  say  about  the  plot.  That  is,  the  motive  power 
then  becomes  anything  which  moves  the  story  in  the 
direction  of  the  final  point  of  rest.   In  a  historical 
novel  the  problem  is  simpler.  In  of  the  Giants, 
for  instance,  I  placed  Judith  in  a  historical  situation, 
and  as  the  known  history  of  the  period  changed,  she  had 
to  adjust  with  it. 


Stewart:       For  example,  it's  the  old  "boy  meets  girl"  theme. 
In  "Romeo  and  Juliet,"  until  the  two  of  them  meet, 
nothing  starts.   It's  a  point  of  rest,  with  respect 
to  the  central  pair.   Of  course  it  gets  fouled  up  a 
little  bit  because  there's  the  other  girl  there,  but 
nothing  happens  with  that.  Then  when  he  sees  Juliet, 
off  it  goes.  Then  you  don't  know  what's  going  to 
happen.   It  goes  from  point  to  point  of  uncertainty, 
works  up,  and  then  it  works  down  again.  At  the  end 
everybody's  dead,  and  that's  it!  You've  got  your  point 
of  rest,   [laughter]  That's  it. 

Sometime  I  ought  to  start  in  with  the  first  of 
my  novels  and  go  right  straight  through. 

Riess:    I'd  like  to  have  you  do  that,  yes. 

There's  a  kind  of  an  agreement  on  these  Review 
interviews  that  every  author  has  one  or  two  ideas  that 
they're  trying  to  get  across  in  the  whole  collective 
works,  an  ideal  shelf  of  writing. 

Stewart:  I  wasn't  thinking  quite  so  much  in  those  terms.  I 

was  thinking  of  the  technical  approach.  You  can  see 
I  shy  off  from  this  idea  approach  in  a  sense.  This 
idea  of  "what  I  was  trying  to  do" — I  don't  like  that 
either.   I  think  I  spoke  about  that.   I  think  if  I 
didn't  do  it,  there's  no  use  telling  what  I  was 
trying  to  do. 

The  problem  is  more  difficult  with  a  non-historical 
novel.  There  you  are  obviously  manipulating  the  story 
all  the  time.  You  start  with  something — say,  boy  meets 
girl.  That  doesn't  raise  any  difficulties.  But  every 
thing  after  that,  unless  you  are  following  a  sequence 
of  real  events,  becomes  essentially  contrived,  though 
that  is  a  dirty  word  in  writing  fiction.  Good  fiction 
merely  gives  the  impression  that  the  series  of  events 
was  not  contrived.  And  it  may  do  that  extremely  well, 
so  well  indeed  that  you  can  break  down  and  weep  over 
the  trials  of  the  characters.  I  still  may  not  make 
myself  altogether  clear  about  motive  power,  but  I'm 
not  setting  out  right  here  to  write  a  book  on  the 
theory  of  fiction.   [G.R.S.] 


Riess:    Okay,  well,  right.   I  won't  pursue  that. 

Stewart:  Oh,  if  there's  anything  definite  you  want  to  ask, 
ask  me.  That's  all  right. 

Riess:    Would  you  agree  that  in  your  writing  there  are  one 
or  two  main  ideas,  and  that  everything  is  part  of  a 
big  package?  And,  is  there  more  to  the  package,  in 
your  mind,  of  your  collective  works?  Or,  as  far  as 
getting  your  idea  across,  is  your  "shelf  full? 

Stewart:   Well,  I've  been  thinking  a  little  bit  about  that 
since  I've  been  talking  with  you.  I  think  I  said 
here  earlier  that  the  idea  of  simplicity  was  a  big 
idea  in  my  books.  And  you  brought  up  the  idea  of  the 
ecology,  and  that  certainly  is  true.   I'd  go  along 
with  you  on  that.  That's  been  very  important. 

I  think,  in  a  sense,  the  weakness  of  my  work, 
looked  upon  as  a  whole,  is  that  it  doesn't  lead  from 
one  thing  to  another.  The  books  tend  to  be  very  much 
discrete.  That's  the  way  I  like  them,  though,  that's 
what  gave  me  vigor  and  energy  to  go  ahead.  I  couldn't 
possibly  have  done  the  sort  of  thing  that  some  authors 
have  done — a  series  of  linked  novels  over  the  years. 
I  would  have  bored  myself  sick. 

Riess:    What  about  Faulkner? 

Stewart:  Well,  Faulkner.  He  didn't  tie  up  so  much — he  had  a 
center,  but  he  didn't  tie  the  books  up  together  too 
much.  There  have  been  others  of  course  that  stuck 
to  the  same  topic.  Many  writers  have  stuck  to  at 
least  a  style.   I  mean,  when  you  talk  about  Hardy,  oh, 
you  think  about  a  certain  type  of  writing.  His  works 
stick  together.  Even  Dickens  sticks  together  after 
a  sense.  You  know  pretty  much  what  a  Dickens  novel 
is  going  to  be.   They  are  variations  on  a  theme.  And. 
the  Forsvthe  Saga.  That  sort  of  thing,  where  you  get 
at  least  a  large  number  of  volumes  tied  up  in  one 
theme . 

Riess:    And  you  admire  this? 

Stewart:  Not  tremendously,  no.  Obviously  there  have  been  some 
great  works  done  that  way. 

Riess:    You  did  say  in  the  beginning  that  that  was  what  you 
did  enjoy  about  writing.  Each  thing  was  discrete. 









Stewart : 


Stewart : 

Stewart : 

It  was. 

So  your  regret  must  not  be  too  Intense I 

No,  no.  My  regret  Is  not  Intense.  In  fact,  I  wouldn't 
say  It's  a  regret  at  all.  As  I  said,  It's  a  weakness 
in  the  picture.  Again,  "I  have  paid  my  price...." 

I  see.  That's  your  critical  self  that's  looking. 

Well,  perhaps  I'm  looking  from  other  people's  point 
of  view  more  than  that,  because  it's  very  hard  for  a 
reader  to  follow  me  all  the  way  through.   I  lose  them 

A  lot  of  your  fan  mail  is  people  discovering  that  "you 
are  the  same  George  Stewart  who  wrote..." 

That's  amusing,  pleasing,  as  a  matter  of  fact, 
being  all  sorts  of  things.  Most  people  do. 

I  like 

One  of  the  writers  interviewed  (Simenon)  said  that  he 
wrote  essentially  for  himself  and  to  live  through 
the  excitement  of  the  writing.   If  nobody  ever  read 
the  book  it  wouldn't  matter. 

Yes.  Well,  there  are  all  kinds  of  people. 
You  write  books  for  people  to  read. 

Yes.   I  don't  think  I  would  be  much  interested  in 
writing  them  merely  for  myself.  And  I  don't  quite 
see  how  he  writes  a  book  without  knowing  how  it's 
going  to  turn  out.   It  seems  to  me  that  he's  cheating 
himself  in  there  somewhere. 

Shall  I  go  on  with  this,  or  is  It  annoying  to  have 
all  these  quotes? 

Oh,  go  ahead.  I'm  interested  in  seeing  what  you  have, 

Well,  Cowley  talked  about  the  tricks  to  start  off 
work,  pencil  sharpening,  walking,  reading  the  Bible 
[laughter].  I  know  you  sharpen  pencils.  Do  you  have 
other  kinds  of  things  to  get  the  motor  going? 

I  didn't  have  any  of  that,  actually.   (You  don't  use 
pencils  for  dictating.)  I  Just  sat  down  and  started. 
I  guess  sitting  down  was  the  preparation  [laughing]. 



Stewart : 


Stewart : 

Stewart:  Even  lying  down.   I  like  to  dictate  lying  down,  or 
at  least  reclining,  like  this.  I  find  it  easier, 
didn't  need  to  go  through  any  of  those  things.   I 
always  started  out  right  away  on  the  novel.  Self- 

Again,  it  was  partly  the  fact  that  writing  was 
always  a  kind  of  escape  for  me,  because  I  had  so 
much  university  work  to  do.  Writing  was  a  way  of 
getting  away  from  it. 

These  people  felt  that  a  lot  is  luck.  If  they  don't 
do  the  right  things,  the  luck  won't  come. 

Do  some  of  them  have  that  idea? 

Truman  Capote  sounded,  like  he  was  under  some  sort  of 
mounting  apprehension,  that  If  he  didn't  have  his 
desk  arranged  Just  so,  etc... 

Yes,  he  might  well  be.   I  think  probably  a  good  many 
writers  have  little  quirks  like  that.   C.  S.  Forester, 
for  instance.  He  wrote  on  the  same  kind  of  paper, 
lined  paper,  every  time.  He  was  the  kind  who  "hated 
to  write."  At  least  he  always  said  he  did.   I'm 
never  quite  sure  about  people  like  that.  But  he  was 
a  thoroughly  professional  writer.  Absolutely 
professional.  The  way  he  fooled  himself  was  he'd 
have  this  paper,  the  same  size  always,  the  same  number 
of  lines,  and  he  had  to  fill  a  certain  number  of  pages 
every  day.   Then  he  wouldn't  do  any  more.   He'd  come 
to  the  end  of  a  page,  in  the  middle  of  a  sentence, 
and  stop  right  there.  He  didn't  allow  any  paragraphs. 
He  would  put  a  sign  in  for  a  paragraph,  not  a  space, 
so  that  it  didn't  make  any  difference.   He  found  that 
otherwise  he  cheated  on  paragraphs.  He  would  put  in 
too  many  paragraphs.  That  got  to  be  a  kind  of  fetish 
I  suppose.  That  was  the  way  he  worked  it. 

Hemingway,  after  one  of  his  accidents,  where  there 
was  a  possibility  he  would  lose  the  use  of  his  arm, 
didn't  think  he'd  be  able  to  write  any  more,  because 
for  him  it  was  such  a  manual  activity. 

I  don't  think  that  would  apply  to  me.  I  always  like 
to  have  as  little  barrier  as  possible  between  myself 
and  what  was  on  the  page.   The  way  I  could  get  it 
there  with  the  least  expenditure  of  time  and  energy 
was  what  I  wanted. 




Riess:    What  about  the  idea  of  the  "demon"  that's  in  charge, 
and  about  people  who  felt  that  they  were  sort  of  a 

Stewart:  Well,  I  don't  think  I  would  go  for  that.  But  of 
course,  as  I  say,  it's  always  a  question  of  what 
makes  you  write  at  all. 

Riess:    If  you  hadn't  written,  what  would  you  have  done  that 
would  have  used  that  same  part  of  you  that  writes? 

Stewart:  I'd  have  done  research. 


[Apropos  of  comments  on  Paris  Review  interview  with 
Thornton  Wilder] 

Stewart:   I  was  writing  this  chapter  about  my  high  school  time, 
when  I  played  on  the  tennis  team.  This  is  written 
up  in  the  high  school  annual,  you  know  the  kind  of 
thing  they  have,  that  little  thing  about  the  tennis 
season.   It  turns  out,  as  I  remember  very  well,  I 
went  to  a  tournament  at  the  Thatcher  School.  After 
beating  one  man,  I  was  eliminated  by  the  second  man 
to  come  up — I  wasn't  a  very  good  player — and  his  name 
was  Wilder.  That  was  undoubtedly  Thornton  Wilder, 
who  was  at  Thatcher  School  at  that  time.   I  haven't 
checked  up  to  see  whether  it  possibly  could  have  been 
another  Wilder,  but  I  don't  think  it  was.  That's 
quite  a  nice  little  story,  at  least  it  amused  me. 

His  name  Just  happened  to  be  preserved  in  this 
annual.   Obviously  I  wouldn't  have  remember  it.   I 
had  no  reason  to  remember  his  name  way  back  then. 
It  tickles  me,  because  there's  a  literary  contact! 
That's  why  I  put  that  in  my  autobiography,   [laughter] 

I  like  Wilder 's  work  very  much,  too.  He  has  also 
the  quality  I  have  had  of  not  writing  about  the  same 
things.  His  collected  works  don't  make  any  kind  of 
unification  at  all,  as  far  as  I  can  see. 


INTERVIEW  V,  Bret  Harte.  Ordeal  by  Hunger.  John 
Phoenix,  East  of  the  Giants.  Doctor's  Oral.  Take  Your 
Bible  in  Your  Hand.  Storm;  some  comments  about 
publishers  interspersed.   (Recorded  September  28,  1971) 

Riess:    I  read  the  latest  two  chapters  of  your  autobiography 
and  in  them  you  check  mark  a  couple  of  questions. 

Stewart:  Yes,  places  where  I  hadn't  really  got  finished,  or 
hadn't  checked  something  out. 

Riess:    You  put  a  question  mark  next  to  the  comment,  "Stewart 
as  second  man  is  a  sure  and  steady  player,  while  not 
at  all  spectacular." 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  Just  wanted  to  check  the  reference.   I  didn't 
have  it  with  me  when  I  was  dictating  that,  and  I  just 
put  that  in  as  I  remembered  it.  So  that's  Just  to 
check  a  reference. 

Riess:    Do  you  think  that  was  a  pretty  intuitive  remark  of 
whoever  the  editor  was,  of  that  yearbook? 

Stewart:  No,  I  don't  know  if  it  was.   I  had  probably  written 
that  myself!   [laughter]  You  know  the  way  student 
things  are  written  up?  I  don't  really  know,  but  I 
have  a  suspicion  I  may  have  written  that,  or  given 
the  idea  at  least.   It's  the  picture  I  might  have 
presented  of  myself. 

Riess:    You  suggested  going  through  all  of  your  work  and 

talking  about  what  you  were  trying  to  do.  Are  you 
ready  to  start  on  that? 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  might  as  well  say  something  about  that,  if 
you  think  that's  a  good  idea. 


Stewart:       It  will  take  me  quite  a  while,  probably,  although 
I'll  talk  pretty  fast  and  not  too  much  in  detail. 
I'll  pass  over  my  thesis  and  the  little  book  I  did 
on  versification.  The  Bret  Harte  book  I  think  you'd 
call  my  first  book.   I'd  worked  several  years  getting 
material  on  that,  and  it  went  into  shape  pretty 
easily.  That  was  a  period  that  was  going  in  for 
biography.  Strachey  had  popularized  biography  as  a 
form  of  writing  in  the  twenties. 

There  was  a  type  of  biography  into  which  mine 
falls  to  some  extent.  I  don't  mean  the  debunking  kind 
particularly.  That  was  another  pattern  of  the  time, 
the  debunking  biography,  in  which  there  were  no  more 
heroes  left.   I  didn't  take  a  hero  apart,  but  at  least 
I  tried  to  give  him  a  place  as  a  human  being.  I  think 
I  did  that  too. 

I  wrote  the  book  mostly  in  Prance,  the  year  we 
were  there.   I  wrote  it  in  longhand,  in  pencil,  the 
first  draft  of  it.  It  gave  me  no  particular  trouble, 
I  might  say.  Before  I  left  the  United  States  I  had 
read  several  biographies  with  the  idea  of  seeing  how 
people  handled  them,  what  you  could  do,  and  what  you 
couldn't  do.   I  had  no  particular  difficulty.  I  kept 
a  chronological  development,  which  I  think  is  the 
right  thing  to  keep  if  you  possibly  can  when  you're 
writing,  because  it  gives  you  a  pattern.   It  gives 
a  natural  pattern,  because  reading  itself  follows 
ahead  on  a  line,  and  chronology  does  the  same  thing. 
It's  the  easiest  of  all  structures  and  I  think  the 
most  effective. 

Of  course  chronology  can  be  mired  up  a  great 
deal,  and  complicated,  but  I  think  the  simpler  form 
has  a  lot  of  it. 

Riess:    You're  talking  about  biography? 

Stewart:  No,  novels  too,  as  far  as  that's  concerned.   On  the 
whole,  I  think  the  Bret  Harte  biography  came  out  all 
right.  It  had  very  good  reviews.  I  think  it  surprised 
a  lot  of  people  that  I  was  able  to  do  so  well.  That 
was  my  first  book,  although  I  was  not  so  very  young 
when  I  wrote  it.   I  was  about  35.  You  see,  I  didn't 
get  off  to  a  particularly  young  start.  I've  done  a 
lot  of  writing,  but  it's  come  late. 


Stewart:       I  read  some  of  the  book  a  while  ago.   I  do  that 
every  now  and  then  with  my  books,  get  started  on 
them  for  some  reason  or  other  and  re-read  parts  of 
them.  Usually  I'm  rather  pleased  that  they  read  as 
well  as  they  do.  That  one  also.  That  one's  not 
badly  written,  and  not  badly  constructed,  either. 
I  think  it  shows  a  good  deal  of  maturity  of  mind, 
really,  to  be  able  to  treat  a  man  like  that  sympathet 
ically,  a  man  who  had  been  attacked  very  badly,  and 
had  certain  weaknesses  of  character,  no  question  about 
that.  But  still,  I  think  I  hit  the  line  pretty  well 
between  heroism  and  anti -heroism.  I  think  I  showed 
him  as  a  human  being,  which  of  course  he  was. 

Riess:    Why  did  you  pick  him?  Did  you  write  it  because  you 
wished  to  change  the  image  somewhat? 

Stewart:  No,  not  particularly.   I  should  say  it  was  largely, 
I  suppose,  academic  opportunism,  to  use  that  term, 
[laughing]  After  all,  you  want  to  write  something. 
I  had  done  a  lot  of  work  on  the  California  background, 
and  I  had  planned  on  doing  a  very  big  Job  on  a  kind 
of  social-cultural  history  of  the  Gold  Rush  period. 
That  seemed  to  be  getting  too  big  for  me,  and  taking 
me  too  far  away,  so  I  finally  scrapped  that  and  saved 
Bret  Harte  out  of  it. 

I'd  written  an  article  on  Bret  Harte  a  long  time 
before  that,  so  I  had  worked  into  him  that  way.   It 
seemed  an  interesting  thing  to  work  on,  and  not  too 
big.  It  could  be  handled.  And  he  was  a  man  who 
needed  doing;  there  was  no  biography  of  him  that  was 
good,  and  hasn't  been  one  since  mine.   I've  held  the 
field  so  far.  That  is  largely  because  nobody  is  much 
interested  in  Bret  Harte  any  more. 

If  you  have  any  question,  you  Just — I  don't  like 
to  stop  and  say  "question,  please"  or  anything, 

Riess:    When  you  say  that  you  had  gotten  "too  far  away"  in 
the  other  writing  project,  what  do  you  mean? 

Stewart:  It  was  too  big  a  Job,  and  I  Just  didn't  want  to  spend 
all  my  life  doing  that  particular  Job— especially 
because  it  was  rather  peripheral  to  literature. 

Riess:    How  does  the  phrase  "publish  or  perish"  fit  into  this? 


Stewart:   Oh  yes.   Yes,  that  had  something  to  do  with  it. 
Although  that  phrase  Is  not  so  much  an  absolute. 
Quite  a  few  people  have  neither  published  nor 
perished  when  you  come  right  down  to  it. 

Riess:    When  the  reviews  came  in,  they  were  very  favorable. 

Stewart:  They  were  very  good,  yes.  Extremely  good.  They 

surprised  me  very  much  as  a  matter  of  fact — how  much 
attention  the  book  got,  and  how  good  the  reviews 
were.  Of  course  my  bad  luck  held.   I  hit  the  very 
worst  of  the  depression,  when  the  book  came  out;  it 
sold  very  little.  The  publishers  wanted  to  renege 
on  the  contract  at  the  last  moment,  they  were  so  close 
to  being  broke  apparently.  I  insisted  on  going  ahead 
with  the  contract,  because  after  all  it  meant  a  great 
deal  to  me  to  get  the  book  out. 

Riess:    You  were  a  good  businessman  in  these  ventures,  it 
seems  to  me. 

Stewart:  No,  I  don't  think  so,  particularly. 

Riess:    It  didn't  seem  like  you  gave  your  publishers  any 
quarter,  in  your  letters. 

Stewart:  Are  you  referring  to  a  particular  letter? 

Riess:    Not  any  particular  letter,  but  you  were  dealing  pretty 
strongly  for  yourself  and  at  times  when  I  might 
imagine  your  saying,  "Oh  well,  let  so  and  so  take 
care  of  it,"  you  were  always  involved. 

Stewart:  Well,  I  wouldn't  say  I  was  particularly  a  good 

businessman  in  dealing  with  publishers.   I  had  several 
fights.  I  think  any  author  does. 

Riess:    But  you  fought  the  fights.   Isn't  it  easier  Just  to 
give  in? 

Stewart:  Well,  it  might  be.  That  isn't  necessarily  good 

business  though.   It  might  be  better  business  to  go 
ahead  and  play  it  the  other  way. 

Riess:    The  involvement  with  publishers  is  Interesting.   I'm 
thinking  of  some  authors'  relations  with  Maxwell 
Perkins  and  Soribners. 


Stewart:  Did  I  tell  you  about  my  relationship  with  Maxwell 

Riess:    No.  I  know  from  your  letters  he  was  interested  in 

Stewart:  Yes,  in  about  1938,  '39.  That's  an  interesting 

I  think  this  relationship  between  author  and 
publisher  has  changed  very  much  with  time.   I  don't 
think  there  is  such  a  thing  much  any  more.   Of  course 
I'm  not  active  enough  in  writing  to  know  too  much 
about  it.  But  I  think  it's  almost  disappeared.  I 
think  it  probably  was  even  stronger  before  my  time. 

Perkins  was  one  of  the  famous  examples.   In 
fact,  I'd  call  him  an  editor  more  than  a  publisher. 
There's  a  difference  there.   Of  course  he  must  have 
been  very  powerful  with  the  publishers  too.  I  think 
that  editorship  is  largely  dead  now  too.  They  don't 
have  the  same  kind  of  relationship  with  their  authors, 
I  should  Judge.  Of  course  if  a  man's  making  a  lot 
of  money,  they'll  pay  much  more  attention  to  him  than 
they  will  to  the  ordinary  person.   I  think  there's 
much  less  taking  a  young  author  and  bringing  him 
along  than  there  used  to  be. 

Perkins  got  interested  in  my  first  novel,  East 
of  the  Giants.  He  wanted  to  take  me  over,  almost 
literally.   I  wasn't  under  contract  to  any  publisher. 
In  fact  he  sent  a  man  all  the  way  out  here  from  New 
York,  which  impressed  me  no  end,  in  those  days!   I 
can't  remember  the  man's  name,  but  I  think  he's  still 
with  Scrlbners.  He  must  be  a  very  senior  man  by  now. 
In  fact,  he  must  be  retired. 

Anyway,  he  came  all  the  way  out  to  see  me,  just 
trying  to  get  me  to  go  in  with  them.  I  would  work 
with  Perkins  and  then  he  would  bring  me  along.   If 
I'd  been  a  good  businessman  that's  what  I  would  have 
done.  That's  exactly  a  business  relationship.   He 
would  have  probably  handled  it  all  right.  He  wanted 
me  to  write  Western  novels,  like  East  of  the  Giants, 
Western  novels  at  the  literary  level. And  that  was 
a  very  smart  thing  to  do  probably,  probably  have  been 
a  lot  of  money  in  that.  I  could  have  written  a  whole 
series,  and  had  my  life  work  laid  out  for  me.  I 


Stewart:  would  have  been  Maxwell  Perkins*  boy,  and  he  would 
have  brought  me  along.  He  would  undoubtedly  have 
taught  me  a  lot.   It  might  have  been  quite  an 

Riess:    Taught  you  a  lot — how? 

Stewart:  Taught  me  how  to  write  Western  novels.  That  was 

his  forte,  you  see,  getting  somebody  like  that  who 
was  fairly  young  and  who  had  possibilities. 

Riess:    I  think  of  people  like  Hemingway  and  Fitzgerald, 
prlma  donnas,  being  handled  by  Perkins. 

Stewart:   I  don't  know  how  he  handled  them.  You  might  say  he 
didn't  make  a  very  good  Job  with  either  of  them, 
because  they  both  were  very  temperamental  writers. 
Fitzgerald  particularly  went  to  pieces,  you  see.  He 
went  out  of  the  picture.  He  didn't  live  very  long. 
He  threw  himself  away  pretty  much. 

I  don't  know  whether  that's  what  Perkins  had  in 
mind  or  not.   I  rejected  this  in  high  dudgeon.   I 
went  to  see  him  when  I  was  in  New  York  later  and  had 
a  very  nice  talk  with  him.   I  told  him  I  thought  that 
was  a  bad  idea  to  do  that  sort  of  thing,  and  he  said, 
"Let's  not  talk  about  that."  So  we  had  a  nice  talk 
about  other  things.   I  was  very  glad  to  have  met  him. 
At  that  time,  you  see,  I  was  getting  started  on  Storm, 
and  while  it  might  be  called  a  Western  novel  in  some 
respects,  it  is  something  rather  different  on  the 
whole.   I  didn't  want  to  stop  working  on  that. 

I  couldn't  have  done  it  anyway.  I  just  couldn't 
have  that  relationship  to  a  man.  If  I  had  been  a 
very  young  man,  I  might  have  done  it.  After  all,  it 
wouldn't  mean  that  I  tied,  up  for  the  rest  of  my  life 
necessarily.   If  I  had  been  very  young  and  inexperienced 
but  I'd  written  say  one  good  book,  it  might  have  been 
a  good  thing  to  do.  Because  a  relationship  with  an 
older  man  who  really  knew  the  business  would  have 
been  very — well,  profitable  in  money  and  useful  to 
the  development  of  whatever  you  had  in  you.   But  that 
never  happened. 

Another  piece  of  bad  luck  that  I  had,  that  was 
really,  I  think,  major  bad  luck — 



Riess:    Why  do  you  say  another?  You're  actually  considering 
that  your  decision — 

Stewart:  No,  I  guess  I  shouldn't  say  that.   (I  was  thinking 

about  bad  luck.   I  raised  the  question  I  had  bad  luck 
in  my  autobiography,  bad  luck  professionally  speaking. 
I  was  referring  to  that,  not  to  the  Perkins  business.) 

Now  I  can't  think  what  the  bad  luck  was  that  I 
had!  What  I  was  talking  about.   I  don't  very  often 
have  a  lapse  like  that,  but  I  can't  think  of  it  right 
now.   I'll  go  on  to  something  else. 

Well,  I  know  now.  That  was  the  fact — you  see, 
I  was  going  to  work  on  Ordeal  by  Hunger «  which  is 
another  book  I  can  take  up.  That  was  definitely  a 
revolt  against  the  University,  because  I  had  done 
quite  a  lot  of  work,  publication  of  all  sorts,  and  I 
hadn't  gotten  a  promotion.  I  was  still  assistant 
professor.  And  I  was  getting  pretty  sore.   I  figured, 
well,  what's  the  difference.  There's  no  use  publishing 
any  more  scholarly  works.  I  might  as  well  do  something 
that  would  be  fun  to  do.  Here's  a  great  story.   I 
knew  enough  about  it,  as  a  matter  of  fact  I  thought  it 
would  be  a  much  easier  Job  than  it  was,  because  I 
thought  the  material  had  all  been  pretty  well  collected, 
in  a  previous  book  or  two,  and  that  I  could  work  out 
from  that. 

But  I  found  that  was  wrong.  I  had  to  do  the  work 
really  from  the  bottom  up,  which  now  I  would  know  I 
would  have  to  do,  but  then  I  thought  I  could  do  it  in 
an  easier  way.  Anyway,  I  did  the  work,  I  collected 
the  material.  That  book  came  out  very  well  too. 
That's  been  a  quite  well -sustained  book  ever  since. 
It's  been  in  print  most  of  that  time  (first  published 
in  1936),  and  that's  pretty  hard  to  do.  Where  I  had 
my  bad  luck  was  in  this.   I  thought  I  should  work 
with  an  agent,  so  I  did.   I  tied  up  with  a  good  agent, 
Brandt  and  Brandt.  They're  still  going.  They've  been 
leading  agents  for  many  years.  I  was  quite  pleased 
they  wanted  to  take  the  book. 

Well,  they  sent  it  around,  to  six  different 
publishers,  all  of  whom  turned  it  down.  And  they 
were  good  publishers.  That's  very  discouraging  when 
that  happens.   I  couldn't  see  why,  because  I  thought 

Stewart:   it  was  a  safe  book  at  least.   I  didn't  see  how  a 

publisher  could  help  but  make  some  money  out  of  it, 
but  they  couldn't  see  it  that  way.  Of  course  the 
depression  was  on. 

So  the  agents  sent  it  back  to  me.   I  sent  it 
out  to  Henry  Holt.  The  first  publisher  I  sent  it  to 
took  it,  which  has  made  me  very  sour  on  agents  ever 
since.   If  they  couldn't  do  better  than  that... 

Where  I  had  the  back  luck  was  really  in  this, 
that  neither  the  agents  nor  I  sent  that  book  to 
Alfred  Knopf.   It  was  a  book  made  to  order  for  Alfred 
Knopf.  He  told  me  later  he  would  have  been  very  glad 
to  take  it.   In  my  period,  Knopf  has  been  about  the 
greatest  publisher  there  is.  If  I  could  have  tied 
up  with  Knopf  at  that  time,  I  think  it  would  have  been 
a  very  fine  relationship.  He's  a  difficult  character, 
you  know,  but  he's  a  great  publisher.  He  could 
respect  good  writing,  in  a  way  that  very  few  people 
can.  He  could  maintain  a  literary  standard — as  very 
few  people  have  ever  done  in  this  country. 

Well,  they  didn't  send  it  to  him.   I  don't  know 
why.  They  might  have  disliked  him  personally.   I 
think  it  sometimes  works  that  way. 

Riess:    Would  he  have  directed  you  in  the  way  that  Perkins 
might  have? 

Stewart:  No,  I  don't  think,  at  all.   I  think  he  would  have 
been  very  good  for  general  advice  and  that  sort  of 
thing.   I  don't  think  he  would  have  tried  to  direct 
an  author  too  much.  That  would  be  my  feeling.  I've 
met  him  several  times.  He  can  be  a  disagreeable  man, 
but  a  great  publisher.   Of  course  his  wife  was  a  great 
character  too,  you  know.  She's  dead  now.  She  was 
probably  as  great  a  publisher  as  he  was. 

Riess:    Was  she  a  publisher  in  her  own  right? 

Stewart:  No,  her  name  wasn't  on  the  masthead  anywhere,  I  don't 
believe,  but  everybody  knew  about  her  in  the  book 

Riess:    When  you  talk  about  him  being  a  great  publisher,  that 
means  a  great  discoverer,  or  something? 


Stewart:   Well,  that's  part  of  it,  certainly,  and  maybe  being 
a  man  of  high  ideals  who  at  the  same  time  can  keep 
going.   I  mean,  after  all,  a  publisher's  got  to  keep 
going.  He's  got  to  make  money  or  he's  dead.  There's 
no  use  being  impractical  about  this  thing.  Knopf 
can  do  that.  He  can  do  both  sides. 

For  instance,  he  brought  up  the  standard  of  the 
physical  nature  of  the  book  tremendously  in  this 
country,  for  one  thing.  That  shows — you  compare  what 
a  book  looked  like  before,  say,  1920,  with  what  it 
gradually  came  to  look  like.  Beautifully  designed 
books,  well  put  together.   I  think  there  is  more  owed 
to  Alfred  Knopf  than  anybody  else  for  that.  But  I 
missed  that  connection. 

Riess:    Books  got  nicer.  Why? 

Stewart:   I  think  it (was  perhaps  Knopf's  realization  that  after 
all  a  good-looking  well-designed  book  doesn't  cost 
much  more  than  a  sloppy  book.  All  you  have  to  do 
is  get  an  intelligent  designer  working  on  it.  What 
you  pay  the  designer  isn't  a  very  big  item  in  bringing 
a  book  out. 

Riess:    When  you  realized  that  you  had  missed  the  boat  on 
that,  was  it  possible  to  get  back  with  him? 

Stewart:  Well,  no.   It  was  quite  a  while  before  I  realized 
that.  And  I  didn't  know  too  much  about  the  whole 
set-up  in  those  days,  or  I  would  have  sent  the  book 
to  him  at  that  time.  No,  it  was  quite  a  while,  and 
I  had  gone  too  far  in  other  directions  to  switch 
arfcund.  I  may  be  idealizing  that  situation,  but 
that's  the  way  it  seems  to  me. 

Riess:    Did  you  use  original  sources,  and  interview  people, 
for  the  Bret  Harte  book? 

Stewart:  Many  original  sources  and  a  few  people.  His  sister 
was  still  living,  living  in  Berkeley  as  a  matter  of 
fact.  She  was  a  lovely  old  lady.   I  didn't  get  much 
out  of  her.   She  gave  me  a  diary,  though,  which  I 
made  use  of,  very  important  use  of.  And  I  interviewed 
Ina  Goolbrith,  the  poet.  I  didn't  get  much  out  of 
her  either. 

I  met  his  daughter  once,  but  that  was  after  I'd 
written  the  biography.   I  didn't  particularly  like  to 



Stewart:  team  up  with  the  family.  Unless  you  do  a  real  family 
biography,  my  instinct  is  to  keep  away  from  the 
family.   I  think  that's  a  good  instinct. 

Riess:    How  about  in  Ordeal  by  Hunger? 

Stewart:  I  didn't  get  any  interviews  there.  There  was  only 
one  survivor  left,  and  again — that's  a  kind  of  a 
family  matter,  and  if  you  go  to  somebody  like  that, 
sometimes  what  they  tell  you  you  know  isn't  right, 
but  you  can't  very  well  dispute  them.   I  kept  away 
from  the  families  too.   I  missed  out  on  some  little 
things  there,  but  I  kept  my  freedom  of  action,  which 
is  very  important  in  that  story,  because  each  family 
had  its  own  version  of  it  afterward,  you  know,  that  was 
sort  of  entrenched.   If  you  got  what  a  granddaughter 
was  telling  you,  why,  you  wouldn't  know  what  you  had. 
I  missed  out  on  some  small  documents. 

There's  been  quite  a  bit  come  to  light  on  the 
Donner  Party  since  I  worked  on  it,  but  I've  incorporated 
most  of  that  in  my  revised  edition. 

Riess:    You  said  you  thought  you  would  be  able  to  find  most 
of  the  material  in  published  work.  Was  there  very 
much  on  the  actual  trails  and  maps  of  routes,  or  was 
that  what  you  had  to  develop  yourself? 

Stewart:  I  developed  most  of  that  myself.  I  did  go  over  a  lot 
of  that  territory  on  foot,  so  I  knew  about  where  they 
went,  and  where  they  could  go  and  where  they  couldn't. 

Yes.  I  worked  out  practically  all  of  that,  the 
geographical  background.  Of  course  that's  where  I  got 
interested  in  the  trail.  I've  still  got  that  interest. 

I  actually  located  a  couple  of  the  old  trees  up 
there  which  were  cut  in  the  snow  and  they  were  still 
standing.  They're  still  up  there,  by  the  way.  I 
saved  them,  finally,  because  the  road  was  re-located 
and  here  were  these  old  stumps  standing  right  beside 
the  highway.   It  would  be  Just  a  matter  of  time  before 
somebody  went  and  knocked  them  over,  Just  for  fun.  So 
I  told  the  Donner  Park  people  they  ought  to  go  out 
and  retrieve  these  stumps,  because  they're  the  size 
you  could  get  on  a  truck  with  a  few  men  lifting  them. 
They've  got  them  up  there  in  the  museum  now.   I  don't 
think  they  have  them  on  exhibition  yet,  but  they've 


Stewart:   r;ot  them.  And  that's  quite  a  find  to  have.   These 

were  cut  off  about  ten  feet  high,  about  when  the  snow 
was  deepest.  They  came  from  the  Prosser  Creek  camp. 

My  destiny  tied  me  up  to  Dormer  Pass.   I  kept 
going  back  to  that  for  one  thing  after  another. 
Finally  they  had  a  ceremony  up  there  when  they  were 
dedicating  the  new  museum,  and  they  gave  me  Donner 
Pass!   They  decided  to  give  me  Donner  Pass,  that 
would  be  my  property  from  now  on.   [laughter]  But 
I  said  it  would  Just  get  me  on  the  tax  rolls,  I 
wouldn't  take  it.  They  said,  "Well,  we'll  grant  it 
tax  free."  I  said,  "Then  I'll  take  it." 

I  found  out  they  hadn't  given  me  anything,  because 
Donner  Pass  is  really  a  hole  in  the  wall.  What  did  I 
get?  Just  what?  Something  where  nothing  was. 

Riess:    How  about  the  "germ  of  the  idea"  on  Ordeal ? 

Stewart:  A  long  time  back,  about  1920,  I  read  McGlasham's  book 
on  the  Donner  Party.   It  was  a  good  story,  but  badly 
told.  I  was  interested  ever  since  that.  Of  course 
I  didn't  think  of  myself  as  a  historian.   It  wasn't 
until  I  branched  out  and  got  away  from  the  work  in 
literature  a  little  and,  as  I  told  you,  got  the  feeling 
that  I  might  as  well  do  something  in  another  line  since 
I'd  done  enough  in  that  one  line  already. 

One  thing  about  that  book  that  most  people  don't 
realize  is  just  what  a  complicated  story  it  is.   It's 
a  much  more  complicated  story  than  you'd  ever  try  to 
do  in  a  novel,  because  you've  got  as  many  as  five  or 
six  strands  running  parallel,  and  you  have  to  keep 
shifting  back  from  one  to  another,  or  carrying  one 
through — that's  the  most  difficult  thing  there  is  to 
write,  you  know.  When  things  are  happening  at  the 
same  time,  and  you  have  to  keep  the  whole  thing  in 
the  reader's  mind  some  way  or  another.  That  called 
for  a  terrific  amount  of  work. 

Riess:    How  did  you  plot  that  before  you  wrote  it? 
Stewart:   I  drew  lines  on  paper. 
Riess:    You  really  plotted  it? 

Stewart:   Oh  yes,  sort  of  figuring  how  to  get  back,  onto  the 
other,  how  to  bridge  something  across,  and  work  the 



Stewart:  reader's  mind  around  until  he  gets  to  thinking  about 
the  other  thing,  and  then  In  the  next  chapter  you're 
back  on  to  another  thing,  you  know,  but  you've  got 
him  already  thinking  about  it. 

Riess:    It  sounds  like  you're  talking  about  keeping  the 

reader's  attention  in  a  way  that  wouldn't  be  usual 
in  nonf lotion. 

Stewart:  That's  all  right  in  nonf let ion.   I  don't  see  any 

reason  why  you  shouldn't  keep  the  reader's  attention 
in  nonf lotion,   [laughing] 

Riess:    It  seems  as  if  in  nonf lotion  you  would  assume  that 
the  reader  would  work  harder  than  In  fiction. 

Stewart:  Well,  probably  he  does,  but  even  so  you  oan't  count 

on  him  working  very  hard.   I  don't  see  why  you  should 
make  him  work  hard  anyway,  if  you  can  do  the  work 

Riess:    When  you  realized  what  a  difficult  thing  it  was  going 
to  be,  did  you  at  any  point  feel  like,  "Well,  let's 
scrap  the  idea." 

Stewart:  No,  I  never  thought  of  it  that  way.   I  knew  where  the 
material  was  by  that  time.   Well,  that  was  an 
interesting  thing  to  do. 

Riess:    Did  you  get  much  editing  help  on  that  from  your 

Stewart:   Holt  published  that  and  I  don't  think  there  was  any 
editing  at  all. 

Riess:    At  the  point  at  which  you  would  read  something  aloud, 
for  instance  to  your  wife  or  to  yourself,  were  there 
apt  to  be  any  changes  happening  then? 

Stewart:   Oh  yes,  yes,  if  there  was  something  that  didn't  go 
right,  and  if  I  read  it  to  myself  I  would  fix  it 
right  there.   If  I  was  reading  to  somebody  else,  I 
might  just  mark  it  in  the  margin  and.  go  on. 

Riess:    Did  you  have  really  beautiful  sentences  that  would 

occur  to  you  that  you  would  put  down,  or  did  beautiful 
sentences  develop  slowly? 






Oh,  I  think  that  lying  In  bed  at  night,  why  you  may 
write  up  something,  might  do  a  little  writing.   I 
donft  think  of  beautiful  sentences  In  Isolation 
though.   I  think  the  whole  thing  has  to  tie  In.  A 
sentence  Is  beautiful  because  it  stands  In  relation 
ship  to  other  things.  You  want  to  watch  that  kind 
of  thing — that's  what  lead  you  Into  purple  passages, 
when  you  start  thinking  of  some  particular  sentence. 

I  know  when  I  was  writing  my  first  novel,  East 
of  the  Giants.  I  used  to  lie  in  bed  at  night  and 
really  be  all  excited  because  I  was  thinking  about 
how  things  would  go,  what  I  could  do.  Sometimes  a 
particular  word.  And  every  now  and  then,  of  course, 
you  do  get  a  particular  sentence  or  idea.  Sometimes 
it  works.   I  can't  think  of  an  example  right  now,  but 
I  know  I  have  had  that  sort  of  thing. 

Another  funny  thing  is  when  you  get  to  quoting 
yourself  in  later  books.  That's  a  danger,  of  course, 
that  you  start  imitating  yourself.   I  wanted  to  use 
this  quotation  in  California  Trail,  and  it  was  a  fine 
quotation.   I  could  quote  it  all  right  and  I  knew  it 
was  in  one  of  my  books  somewhere,   [laughing]  I  had 
to  hunt  all  around  before  I  could  find  it.   I  finally 
found  it  in  Fire.   "All  this,  too,  was  part  of  the 

price  of  the  taking-over  of  the  land." 
sentence.  That's  got  rhythm  too.* 

It's  a  nice 

One  great  test  of  whether  you're  writing  purple, 
or  whether  you're  not,  is  whether  you're  saying  some 
thing,  whether  you're  saying  exactly  what  you  want. 
If  you  find  you're  throwing  in  adjectives  or  something 
and  you're  not  really  saying  anything  then  you've  got 
to  watch  out.  That's  when  you're  getting  bad. 

But  you  know,  that  sentence  I  Just  quoted  is  very 
exactly  worded.   It  doesn't  say  it  was  the  price.  It 
was  "part  of  the  price."  That  kind  of  thing,  you  see, 
that  says  something  quite  exactly. 

What  was  the  response  of  the  public  to  Ordeal?  Who 

were  you  writing  for  at  this  point?  Who  was  your  public? 

*But  be  sure  that  you  keep  the  hyphen  in  "taking-over." 
It  makes  a  big  difference.   [G.S.] 




Stewart:   Well,  my  public  has  always  been  the  intelligent  lay 
person,  I  suppose  you  could  say.   My  books  are  not 
written  for  specialists.   Don't  you  think  that 
describes  pretty  much  what  my  books  are  written  for? 

Riess:    Ordeal  by  Hunger  wasn't  necessarily  for  people  who 
were  Just  getting  interested  in  California  and 
California  things? 

Stewart:   Well,  it's  partly  that,  of  course.  Any  book  has  an 
area  of  specialization.  A  book  about  young  people 
will  sell  more  to  young  people  than  it  will  to  older 
people.   That  doesn't  mean  it's  really  exclusively 
for  young  people.  Any  book  has  a  certain  degree  of 

For  instance,  Ordeal  by  Hunger  sells  well  every 
year  in  Reno.   I  suppose  mostly  to  tourists  going 
through.  The  jobber  up  there  in  Reno  was  in  tears 
when  it  wasn't  in  print.  He  wrote  to  the  publisher 
and  told  him  it  would  sell,  I  think,  30,000  copies 
a  year.  That's  a  lot  of  books,  paperbacks  of  course. 

Rless:    After  Ordeal  came  your  decision  to  do  the  novel. 

Stewart:  Well,  we  might  mention  John  Phoenix  in  there.  He 
gets  passed  over  too  much".  That  was  a  mistake  in 
some  ways,  of  course,  but  I'd  done  a  biography,  and 
I  felt,  "I've  done  a  biography,  I'd  like  to  do  another." 
I  was  interested  in  Phoenix  for  a  long  time.  I 
thought  he  wrote  pretty  funny,  humorous  stuff  about 
California.  The  way  it  was  a  mistake  is  it's  a 
mistake  always  to  follow  up  a  thing  you've  done, 
really,  with  something  that's  the  same.  I  think, 
that's  my  general  philosophy. 

And  then  also,  Phoenix  was  not  a  man  of  enough 
importance.   It's  just  about  as  much  work  to  write  a 
biography  of  an  unimportant  man  as  it  is  with  a  big 
man,  and  you're  wasting  your  time  pretty  much.   I  was, 
on  him.  Although  it's  a  good  book.   It's  a  readable 
book.   It  certainly  hasn't  ever  sold  very  much, 
although  it's  back  in  print  now.  Everything's  in 
print  now,  practically,  so  that  doesn't  mean  so  much. 

And  then  I  got  magnificent  family  support  on 
that.  They  sent  me  all  the -family  papers,  which  were 
extraordinary,  including  a  whole  album  of  drawings 
he  made.  That  was  fun  to  work  at.  But  that's  the 



Stewart:  only  time  I  ever  got  close  to  getting  in  trouble  with 
a  family.  That's  always  a  danger,  but  it  blew  over. 
It  wasn't  any  real  trouble.  There  was  one  sentence 
in  the  book  that  they  objected  to.  Fortunately,  I 
guess  it  was  fortunately,  the  publisher  changed  it 
without  even  telling  me.  It  didn't  make  any  great 
difference.  That  is  a  good  little  book.  It's  not 
a  book  I'm  ashamed  of  at  all,  although  it  wasn't  very 
earth-shaking  in  its  topic. 

Then  I  did  decide  to  write  the  novel.  People 
asked  me  why  I  wrote  a  novel,  but  after  all,  it's 
a  great  American  ambition.  Everybody  wants  to  write 
a  novel,  and  so  I  did  too.  I  already  knew  something 
about  early  California,  because  I'd  been  interested 
in  that — it's  a  very  colorful  era,  and  that  was  a 
period  of  historical  novels.  Historical  novels  are 
always  popular,  but  they're  more  popular  at  some 
times.  This  was  the  period  of  Anthony  Adverse  and 
Gone  With  the  Wind.  And  the  influence  of  those  books 
is  in  there  of  course,  to  some  extent.  It  was,  in  a 
sense,  a  period  piece. 

I  learned  a  lot  out  of  writing  East  of  the  Giants. 
It  came  out  very  well.  I  had  learned  about  point  of 
view,  and  about  continuity  and  things  like  that  from 
working  on  books  I  had  already  done,  particularly 
Ordeal  by  Hunger.  So  I  didn't  have  much  trouble  with 
writing  a  novel.  My  imagination  worked  tremendously 
well  on  that,  I  suppose  because  it  was  my  first  novel, 
and  I  was  eager. 

The  book  worked  all  right.  Structurally,  the 
novel  is  in  three  books.  I  used  the  device  of  inter- 
chapters,  which  I've  used  a  lot,  starting  with  Ordeal 
by  Hunger.   It  trademarks  my  work,  almost.  I  don't 
know  any  older  writer  who  even  uses  the  term.  I 
think  maybe  I  invented  the  term.  So  East  of  the 
Giants  was  three  books. 

The  books  were  in  a  comparatively  brief  period 
of  time;  then  the  inter-chapters  filled  in  the  gaps. 
The  first  book  began  in  1837,  the  second,  in  18&J-, 
and  the  third  in  1856. 


You  see,  you  have  the  problem  of  scene  and 
summary  in  writing  almost  anything.  There  are  certain 
places  you  have  to  develop  in  detail:  they  are  your 
scenes.  And  of  course,  if  you  can't  write  good  scenes, 




Stewart:  you  can't  write  a  good  novel.  You've  got  to  come 

to  grips  with  your  material  at  some  point  or  other. 

I  always  used,  to  teach  that,  about  scene 
flinching.   It's  a  curious  phenomenon.  You'll  find 
it  time  and  again.   Inexperienced  writers  will  work 
up  to  a  big  scene,  and  then  they  won't  write  it!  They 
flinch.  They  realize  it's  going  to  be  hard  to  write, 
and  subconsciously  they  don't  want  to  write  it.  And 
of  course  that  ruins  your  book.  When  you  get  up  to 
a  big  scene,  you've  got  to  tackle  it,  you've  got  to 
do  it. 

Writing  good  summary  is  difficult  too.  But  I 
solved  the  problem — somewhat  mechanically,  I  grant 
you,  in  East  of  the  Giants,  because  I  wasn't  too 
skilled.  That  is  a  little  stiff.  Each  chapter  is 
written  from  one  person's  point  of  view,  though  the 
same  person  may  have  more  than  one  chapter.  Each 
chapter  is  a  scene,  really.  That  is,  it  means  a  very 
restricted  time  basis,  often  Just  a  matter  of  a  few 
hours,  and  sometimes  a  few  days,  but  just  about  like 

It's  built  up  around  the  heroine,  and  she  has 
about  half  the  scenes,  that  is,  chapters.  And  of 
course  her  two  husbands,  because  she's  married  twice, 
have  chapters.   Once  or  twice  her  children  have 
chapters,  and  other  times  incidental  characters,  who 
give  a  different  point  of  view  on  the  main  characters. 
It  worked  out  pretty  well. 

Curiously  Josephine  Miles  was  a  great  admirer 
of  that  book.  It  doesn't  seem  like  her  book,  somehow 
or  other,  but  she  always  liked  it.  And  some  of  the 
inter- chapters  are  very  good.  I've  got  an  inter- 
chapter  in  there,  which,  if  I  ever  collected  my 
anthology,  I'd  certainly  take.  It's  one  of  the  best 
things  I  ever  did. 

Bless:    Tell  me  which. 

Stewart:  Well,  it's  the  one  between  the  first  and  second  books. 
It's  the  rhythm  of  the  year  at  the  ranch  where  she 
lived.   "This  was  the  cycle  of  the  year  at  Rancho 


Stewart:   Amarillo,"  I  think  it  reads,  and  Just  goes  through 
the  year.*  I  haven't  road  it  in  a  long  time,  but  I 
think  it's  very  Rood. 

Riess:    Your  heroine,  Judith,  was  much  admired  by  readers. 

Stewart:   I  don't  know  where  she  came  from  particularly.   My 
wife  thinks  she's  got  a  lot  of  my  mother  in  her. 
That  may  well  be.   I  didn't  have  anybody  really 
definitely  in  mind,  though  I  never  have,  on  any  major 
character  in  my  books. 

Hiess:    She  changed  so  and  grew,  in  the  book. 

Stewart:  Well,  she  grew  against  a  background,  too.  The  back 
ground  changed  and  she  changed,  partly  from  maturity, 
and  partly  because  she  had  to  change  to  adjust  to  new 
situations,  as  people  had  to  in  that  generation. 

Riess:    Did  you  work  with  a  chronological  outline  there? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  had  some  kind  of  outline,  yes.   I  knew  pretty 
well  where  I  was  going.  The  third  part  gave  me  some 
trouble.  The  first  two  parts  ran  beautifully  from 
the  original  impulse.  The  third  part  gave  me  some 
trouble  to  develop. 

Riess:    The  third  part  being  the  last  part.  You  did,  in 

speaking  of  Earth  Abides «  say  that  the  beginning  and 
the  end  are  usually — 

*"This  was  the  cycle  of  the  year  at  Rancho  Amarillo. 
By  July,  after  killing-time,  the  grass  was  dry  and 
brown.  That  was  a  good  time  to  dry  adobe  bricks  in 
the  sun  and  to  build,  for  the  cattle  needed  little 
care.  By  August  the  cattle  were  eating  the  brown 
grass  close  down  to  the  ground,  and  were  getting  thin. 
The  creek  shrank  to  a  series  of  muddy  water-holes. 
In  September  came  hot,  dazzling,  sunny  weather,  with 
sweeping  dry  winds  from  the  north,  making  the  lips 
crack  and  wearing  the  nerves  thin  too.  That  was  a 
dangerous  time,  and  there  might  be  quarrels  and 
knifings  among  the  vaqueros.  By  now  the  hides  were 
cured,  and  great  high-loaded  bullock-carts  creaked 
slowly  off  toward  the  boat-landing  on  the  bay-shore; 
later  they  would  return  with  the  winter  supplies, 
corn  and  beans,  chiles  and  onions,  from  San  Jose. 


Stewart:   They're  usually  easier,  yes.   But  It  wasn't  that  way 
In  that  particular  book.  Well,  I  wouldn't  say  the 
third  book  gave  me  very  great  difficulty.  You  see, 
it's  the  breakdown  of  the  primitive  paradise.   I 
didn't  think  of  it  in  terms  as  self-conscious  as 
that,  but  that's  pretty  much  what  it  is.  That 
required  a  readjustment.  You  had  to  bring  in  evil 
in  the  last  part.  There  wasn't  much  real  evil  in 
the  first  part. 

Riess:     After  East  of  the  Giants,  you  were  a  "novelist." 
How  were  you  received  around  campus?  You  told  in 
the  autobiography  about  being  carried  on  the 
shoulders  of  the  crowd  in  high  school.  Now  were 
you  back  up  on  the  shoulders? 

Stewart:   Yes,  I  think  that  partly  describes  it,  all  right. 

There  was  a  good  deal  of  that,  but  it  came  to  me  by 
steps.   I  got  quite  a  good  deal  out  of  Bret  Harte 
that  way.  And  I  got  quite  a  good  deal  out  of  Ordeal 
by  Hunger.  It  seemed  to  move  on  to  another  step. 
And  then  East  of  the  Giants  was  another  step.  And 
then  I  suppose  Storm  was  the  final  step.  Simplifying 
the  matter.  But  that's  about  the  way  it  went,  I 

Riess:     If  there  had  been  a  real  lack  of  Interest  in  you  as 
a  writer,  would  you  have  been  motivated  to  go  on 

"In  October  or  November  came  the  first  good  rain. 
The  tension  of  the  dry  weather  eased  and  you  slept 
better.  Within  two  weeks  afterwards  you  would  look 
out  one  morning  and  see,  faint  and  delicate,  the  first 
green  of  the  new  grass.   In  December  and  on  until 
March  came  the  great  storms,  sweeping  in  over  the 
southern  hills  beneath  immeasurable  thickness  of  murky 
gray  cloud,  low-lying  and  wind-driven.  The  creek  rose 
till  you  could  hear  it  roaring  in  the  night.  Between 
the  great  storms  came  fine  weeks  of  sunny  weather, 
warm  in  the  day,  crisp  cold  at  night.   Once  in  a  while 
you  would  look  out  in  the  morning  to  see  the  whole 
valley  aglitter  like  silver  with  frost,  and  the 
cattle  standing  out  darkly,  steaming  in  the  newly 
risen  sun.  With  the  cold  and  the  wet,  and  the  new 
grass  not  yet  having  much  nourishment,  the  cattle 
were  still  thinner." 



Stewart:   I  don't  know.   I  think  it  would  have  been  doubtful, 
yes.  Because  I  think  that  what  psychologists  some 
times  term  as  feedback  is  very  important  to  a  writer, 
as  I've  already  mentioned.   I  think  that  lack  of  it 
leads  many  writers  into  frustration.  They  start  out 
and  they  don't  get  anything  coming  back  in,  and  then 
they  Just... of  course  in  the  first  place  they  almost 
immediately  hit  a  very  bad  problem  about  publishing. 
If  they  can't  get  some  kind  of  reaction  from  somebody, 
then  pretty  soon  they  develop  the  idea  that  they're 
misunderstood  geniuses  and  so  forth,  and  that's  bad. 

I  knew  one  man.  I  think  he's  dead  now.  He  wrote 
nine  novels  and  piled  them  up  one  after  the  other. 
He  had  published  a  novel  way  back  about  1925,  which 
was  fairly  successful.  Then  he  couldn't  ever  hit  it. 
Nine  different  novels,  and  he  didn't  r>ubllsh  any  of 
them.   Then  finally  some  publisher  took  another  one 
or  two  of  them  years  later.  But  that  was  all  he  ever 
did.   I  don't  know  how  many  more  novels  he's  written 
in  his  time.  But  that's  a  very  curious  kind  of  person. 
And  he  was  a  very  curious  kind  of  person.   I  think 
writing  novels  that  way  would  be  too  much  for  me. 

Riess:    Yes.  That's  like  Simenon's  need  to  write,  and 
experience  his  own  life  through  writing. 

Stewart:  Well,  I  can  conceive  that  taking  place,  but  it's 
certainly  not  very  common. 

I  think  there  has  to  be  some  kind  of  compromise 
on  this.   I  think  if  you  start  writing  entirely  for 
other  people  that's  pretty  bad  too.  That  gives  you 
the  hack  writer,  who  can  be  a  skillful  writer,  but  I 
think  that's  not  good  either.  You  have  to  have  some 
kind  of  compromise  between  writing  to  please  yourself 
and  writing  for  an  audience. 

Riess:    By  then,  on  campus,  was  It,  "There  goes  George 
Stewart,  the  novelist11? 

Stewart:   Oh,  I  wasn't  conscious  of  that  very  much.   I  suppose 
there  was  some  of  that.   Every  now  and  then  I  would 
meet  somebody  who  said,  "Oh,  I  took  a  class  from  you 
because  I  read  your  books"  and  so  forth.  But  I  was 
never  very  conscious  of  that.  Berkeley  is  a  very 



Stewart:   sophisticated  place.   We've  had  a  lot  of  books 

published  around  Berkeley.  They  don't  go  into  swoons 
about  a  writer  too  easily. 

You  get  quiet  pieces  of  appreciation  which  are 
worth  more  to  you  than  the  other  thing.   I  don't  know 
whether  you  knew  the  Tolmans  or  not.  Kathleen  Tolman 
said  that  reading  East  of  the  Giants  opened  up  a  whole 
world  for  her.  That's  nice  to  get  from  a  very  fine 
person  you've  known  for  years,  somebody  like  that. 
That's  nice. 

Riess:    Did  you  ever  develop  a  character  again  as  you  did  in 
East  of  the  Giants? 

Stewart:  Well,  yes.   I  think  I  did  some  other  good  characters. 
Of  course  Storm  and  Fire  don't  go  in  for  human 
characters  particularly,  but  I  think  that  I've  got 
some  good  characters  in  Earth  Abides.  People  generally 
recognize  those.  There  are  good  characters  in  the 
Years  of  the  City  too,  but  nobody  ever  reads  that,  so 
nobody  knows  about  that.   I  think  the  Pounder  in  there 
is  a  very  good  character.  That  again  breaks  up — that's 
four  different  periods,  you  see,  connected  through 
the  family  chronologically,  so  in  a  sense  you  don't 
get  the  same  chance  to — there  are  four  main  characters. 
Well,  let's  go  on  chronologically  before  we  get  into 

Riess:    How  did  you  get  started  on  Doctor's  Oral? 

Stewart:   In  a  way,  that  was  a  kind  of  in-between  book.   It  was 
down  in  Mexico,  and  I  wrote  East  of  the  Giants  so  fast 
I  got  finished  with  it  about  March  and  we  were  all 
fixed  up  to  stay  down  in  Mexico  until  about  May,  and 
here  was  all  this  nice  time  available  down  there  with 
nothing  to  fill  me  up  particularly.  I  had  this  idea, 
kind  of  an  obvious  thing — oh,  I  don't  know  whether 
it's  obvious  or  not,  nobody  else  has  done  it,  I  think — 
the  idea  of  a  contest,  a  struggle,  in  an  examination. 
Have  you  read  that  one? 

Riess:    Yes,  I  have. 

Stewart:  Well  there,  you  see,  I  went  at  the  question  of  scene 
differently.   That's  all  handled  in  scenes.   The 

whole  thing  takes  place  in  about  eighteen  hours, 
can  run  through  it,  and  it's  all  in  scene. 



Riess:    Scene  means,  then,  a  lot  of  dialog. 

Stewart:  Yes,  a  lot  of  dialog,  and  the  thing  done  in  detail. 
It  might  be  put  on  the  stage.  Of  course  the  drama 
is  all  done  in  scene.   It  has  to  be.  And  the  great 
difficulty  with  stage  drame  is  getting  these 
transitions  in.  They  have  to  use  all  sorts  of  devices 
to  let  the  audience  know  what  happened  between  this 
scene  and  that  scene.   In  the  novel  you  have  the 
advantage  of  working  both  ways.  So,  by  scene,  you 
mean  something  which  could  be  put  on  the  stage  without 
too  much  difficulty. 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  two  people  have  dramatized 
Doctor's  Oral.   I've  got  one  of  their  versions  in  the 
Bancroft  collection. 

Riess:    "The  Gods  and  Joe  Grantland.11 
Stewart:  Yes.   It  wasn't  a  good  Job  at  all. 

Riess:    So  the  theme,  when  I  asked  you  where  you  had  gotten 
that  idea,  somehow  I  didn't  expect  you  to  define  the 
idea  as  the  contest.  I  think  a  lot  of  people  saw  it 
as  more  the  expose. 

Stewart:  Yes,  they  did,  and  more  so  than  I  wanted.  Of  course 
the  whole  idea  of  a  Ph.D.  examination  is  so  fantastic 
to  the  ordinary  person  that  he  doesn't  understand  what 
it's  about  anyway.  A  lot  of  university  life  is 
fantastic  to  people  like  Governor  Reagan,  for  instance. 
So  they  looked  upon  this  as  an  expose,  which  I  wasn't 
trying  to  make  it,  particularly.   It's  interesting. 
The  people  who  appreciated  Doctor's  Oral  the  most,  as 
a  class,  I  could  really  classify  them.  They  were 
people  who  were  in  and  near  a  university,  but  not  of 
it.  The  people  who  were  really  in  the  university, 
faculty  people  particularly,  didn't  care  too  much 
for  Doctor's  Oral.  People  who  were  clear  out  of  the 
university  didn't  care  the  slightest  for  it.  They 
didn't  know  what  it  was  about. 

But  the  people  who  had  been  around  universities, 
had  maybe  done  a  little  teaching,  and  gone  out  into 
engineering  or  something  like  that,  that  kind  of 
person,  they  really  enjoyed  it.   It  was  their  book. 




Riess:    People  who  were  close  to  the  University,  what  do  you 
think  they  thought? 

Stewart:   I  think  it  probably  seemed  somewhat  shallow  to  them. 
I  don't  know.   Of  course,  it's  funny,  but  that  was 
considered  quite  an  Immoral  book  by  some  people. 
The  young  couple  living  in  sin.  One  old  lady  we  knew 
pretty  well  in  Berkeley  was  very  nasty  about  that, 
that  I  should  write  about  such  a  subject. 

Riess:    Yes,  why  did  you  write  such  an  immoral  book?  [laughter] 
Stewart:  Even  in  those  days,  that  sort  of  thing  was  happening. 

That's  kind  of  corny  in  some  ways.   I  mean  piling 
the  thing  up  all  in  one  day.  But  that's  what 
made  the  book.   I've  often  thought  about  how  in  oral 
examinations,  any  kind  of  examination,  you  don't  know 
what  the  background  of  the  person  involved  is.  All 
sorts  of  things  may  be  happening,  Just  as  they're 
happening  to  the  people  giving  the  examination  too. 
So  I  think  it  was  all  right  in  that  respect. 

I  think  Joe  Grantland  was  a  pretty  good  character 
too,  actually.  He's  a  very  common  type;  at  least  he 
was  in  those  days.  That  miserable  kind  you  can't 
either  fail  or  pass  with  a  good  heart.  Those  are  the 
ones  that  bother  you,  and  make  life  bad  for  a  professor. 

Riess:    I  have  a  little  summary  by  some  reviewer:   "Stewart 
has  been  around,  and  I'd  like  to  know  how  he  gets 
away  with  it.  He  sees  people  and  they  amuse  him,  and 
a  few  move  him,  but  not  really  too  deeply." 

Stewart:  Well,  I  don't  know  about  that.   I  think  the  book  really 
is  a  kind  of  comedy.  You  wouldn't  expect  in  that 
particular  book  too  great  depth  of  moving.  Although 
I  tried  to  bring  out  a  little  difference  in  the 
prologue  and  the  epilogue  there.  Which  again,  I  think, 
are  some  of  the  best  things  I  ever  wrote. 

Hugh  Richmond,  a  professor  in  the  English  depart 
ment  now,  much  younger  than  I  am,  used  for  his  epigraph 
in  a  book  he  just  published  what  I  quoted  about  "the 
love  of  knowledge  and  the  knowledge  of  love."* 

*MLet  the  love  of  knowledge  be  spread  abroad,"  and 
"Let  the  knowledge  of  love  be  spread  abroad. " 


HI  ess:    That  was  your  own  quote? 


Stewart : 

I  made  that  one  up  as  far  as  I  know.   It  seems  like 
the  obvious  thing.  You  Just  know  that  students 
would  translate  it  that  way  if  they  got  a  chance. 

So,  it  was,  as  I  say,  a  kind  of  in-between  book. 
I  wrote  some  of  it  in  Mexico,  about  half  of  it,  and 
then  wrote  the  rest  of  it  after  I  got  back  here.   I 
remember  looking  it  over  again  to  see  if  it  was  worth 
finishing  up,  and  I  decided  it  was  going  to  be  no 
great  Job  to  finish  it  up.  I  was  getting  started  to 
work  on  Storm  then  anyway,  but  I  figured  I  could  get 
this  out  of  the  way,  so  I  did. 

You  see,  Henry  Holt  got  into  a  financial  Jam, 
and  they  reorganized.  They  didn't  handle  East  of  the 
Giants  very  well.  That  was  some  more  of  my  bad  luck, 
to  get  into  a  thing  of  that  sort. 

If  you  had  had  good  luck,  you  would  have  been  over 
whelmed!   [laughter] 

Wouldn't  that  have  been  something I 

They  had  a  new  manager  come  in,  and  he  tried  to 
revive  East  of  the  Giants.  He  spent  a  lot  of  money 
on  it,  but  it's  very  difficult  to  do  that.  He  got 
out  a  new  Jacket,  and  he  spent  some  money  advertising, 
and  tried  to  push  it  to  get  it  started  again.  But  he 
couldn't  get  it  going  again.   It  sold  fairly  well;  it 
sold  better  in  England  than  it  sold  here,  and  I  guess 
it  sold  better  in  Italy  than  it  sold  in  England.   I 
don't  know.  It's  had  a  funny  kind  of  career.   It 
has  enough  of  a  romantic  touch  about  it,  you  see,  that 
it's  a  kind  of  general  least  common  denominator  of 
humanity  or  something. 

Anyway,  that  was  the  time  Henry  Holt  almost  broke 
up,  and  I  got  another  agent  then.  They  didn't  want 
to  give  this  new  book  to  Holt.  Although  Doctor's  Oral 
wasn't  likely  to  be  really  a  very  profitable  book, 
Holt  would  have  taken  it,  largely  on  the  success  of 
East  of  the  Giants.  I  think.   (In  fact  their  editor, 
Bill  Sloan,  came  out  to  see  me.  Again  I  was  much 
impressed,  having  a  man  come  out  from  New  York  to  see 
me  about  a  book.  This  was  Just  about  the  time  the 
other  fellow  did  too. ) 


Stewart:       Well,  Holt  would  have  taken  Doctor's  Oral  and 
given  me  a  good  advance  on  it  too,  but  my  agents 
decided  it  was  better  not  to  go  into  Holt,  because 
that  company  was  in  a  bad  situation.  They  sent  it 
to  Random  House,  and  Random  House  took  it.  That  was 
how  I  got  my  connection  with  Random  House.  They  put 
out  a  very  nice  little  book.  Random  House  did 
beautiful  books  too.  They  were  an  important  factor 
in  the  manufacture  of  books.  But  they  learned  the 
trick  from  Knopf,  I  think.  The  two  were  pretty  close 
in  their  way  of  thinking.  So  it  had  a  good  enough 
sale,  but  didn't  do  anything  very  much.  It  couldn't 
be  expected  to.   I  got  one  of  my  first  really  nasty 
reviews  out  of  that  one.  Did  you  ever  see  that 
review?  It  was  in  Saturday  Review.  I  think.  They 
didn't  like  it  at  all. 

That's  about  all  there  is  to  report  about  that 

Riess:    Had  there  ever  been  any  insider  books  like  it  written? 

Stewart:  Well,  now  that's  interesting,  because  there's  a  man 
named  Brace  who  did  a  book  that  I  Just  read  called 
The  Department.  He  taught  in  Boston  University  and 
other  places  as  a  professor  of  English  and  then  took 
up  writing  novels,  apparently  quite  late  in  life, 
because  he's  about  seventy  now.  This  book  called 
The  Department  has  a  scene  from  a  doctor's  oral  in  it. 

He  had  a  funny  business  in  that.  About  the  birds, 
All  his  characters  have  the  names  of  birds.  Which  I 
think  is  not  a  good  practice!  But  he  was  obviously 
having  a  little  fun.  I've  had  a  few  keys  like  that 
in  my  books  too,  but  not  quite  so  formalistic  as 
this  one.   They're  very  unusual  birds.   I  read  on 
and  I  thought,  "That's  funny."  "There's  a  bird  called 
a  Fulmar,  and  one  man  is  named  Partridge."  Pretty 
soon  I  became  more  and  more  suspicious,  and  started 
going  to  the  dictionary  and  looking  up  some  of  these 
names.  They  were  all  birds.  Rare  birds,  that  you 
didn't  know  about. 

Riess:    Well,  that's  a  man  who's  calling  for  feedback. 

Stewart:   I  don't  know  if  he  is  or  not.  He's  likely  to  get  bad 
feedback  on  that.   It's  so  artificial.  It  gets  in 
people's  way.  I'd  be  willing  to  bet,  though  I  might 




Stewart:   lose,  that  I'm  the  first  man  that's  spotted  it — 
of  a  cold  reader.  He'd  probably  tell  his  friends 
and  they'd  pass  the  word  around.  I  Just  bet  you 
that  almost  nobody  would  pick  that  out.  These  two 
friends  of  ours  read  it  before  they  passed  the  book 
on  to  me,  and  I  told  them  about  this.  That  was  news 
to  them.  They  hadn't  the  slightest  idea. 

Riess:    I  hope  you  told  the  author  that  you  spotted  it. 

Stewart:  I  wrote,  "As  I  read,  it  seemed  to  me  that  your 
department  consisted  entirely  of  odd  birds."  I 
figured  if  he  can't  get  that,  why!   I'll  probably 
hear  from  him. 

Another  great  admirer  of  Doctor's  Oral  was 
Jacques  Barzun.  In  fact,  he  wanted  to  get  it  reprinted. 
He  thought  It  was  very  good  for  graduate  students.  He 
was  dean  then  at  Columbia.   Well,  I  would  have  to  say 
that — some  professors  have  taken  it  that  way.  The 
chemistry  department  here  has  a  copy  in  their  library, 
which  they  say  their  graduate  students  read. 

Riess:    As  preparation  for  the  experience? 

Stewart:  More  or  less,  yes.   I  don't  know  whether  they  do  any 
more  or  not. '  All  these  things  have  changed  so  much 

You  didn't  ask  me  what  that  was  based  on  though, 
what  the  real  background  was.  Most  people  try  to  work 
that  as  a  roman  a  clef,  different  characters  repre 
senting  different  people  around  Berkeley. 

Riess:    Yes,  when  we  talked  about  that  it  didn't  seem  to  me 
that  you  were  about  to  come  out  and  give  me  a  one  to 
one  — 

Stewart:  No,  I  certainly  am  not!   For  various  reasons.   In 
the  first  place,  it  doesn't  work  that  way.   I  did 
have  a  certain  background  feeling  about  some  of  those 
people,  but  I  wouldn't  say  they  were  really 
characterized,  or  there  was  any  attempt  to  satirize 
people  in  there. 

Some  of  those  things  were  real,  though.  I  was 
thinking  more  of  the  nature  of  the  examination,  the 
"Blessed  Damozel"  business.  And  I  always  thought  I 




Stewart:  passed  my  own  doctor's  oral  in  the  first  half  minute 
because  Professor  Krapp  asked  me  that  question  about 
the  Vierhebungstheorie  in  German,  as  I've  already 
told  you.   I  wish  that  I'd  had  a  chance  to  talk  about 
that  with  him  some  time  after  I  grew  up  ( so  to  speak ) , 
but  he  died  quite  a  long  time  ago.  I  had  a  letter 
then  I  spotted  as  being  from  his  son.   I  wrote  and 
asked  him,  "Was  your  father  George  Phillip  Krapp?" 
He  said  he  was.  It's  always  nice  to  make  those 

Anyway,  after  I  answered  that  question  I  figured 
I'd  pretty  well  passed  my  oral.  At  least  I  figured 
that  in  retrospect.   I  didn't  figure  It  at  the  moment, 
but  I  thought  I  was  pretty  good  at  that  point.  Then 
about  the  middle  of  the  examination,  Professor  Trent 
had  to  go  to  a  class  and  couldn't  stay.  As  he  went 
out,  I  saw  him  nod  at  the  chairman,   [laughing]  So 
far  so  good!   I  got  one  vote. 

Riess:    It  sounds  like  doctor's  orals  are  not  a  test  of 

knowledge,  so  much,  as  a  test  of  sophistication  or 
maturity,  or  sense  of  humor  or  character. 

Stewart:  Well,  it's  very  hard  to  say  what  they  are  or  what 
they  ought  to  be.   I  think  they  are  a  pretty  good 
test  of  knowledge,  if  they're  conducted  properly, 
because  in  a  written  examination  you  can  always  cover 
up,  and  you  can  open  up  allusions  that  sound  as  if 
you  knew  a  lot.  There's  an  art  to  taking  any  kind  of 
examination.  That's  what  I  wrote  Doctor's  Oral  about 
really.  But  you  see,  in  an  oral  examination,  you 
can't  get  away  with  that  sort  of  thing.  The  moment 
you  open  up  on  Lucretius  or  somebody,  a  professor 
will  ask  you,  "Now  tell  us  about  Lucretius.  Just 
what  do  you  mean?"  If  you  Just  have  heard  the  name 
Lucretius,  you're  lost. 

Then,  you  can  really  cover  a  tremendous  amount 
of  territory  in  an  examination  very  rapidly  by  the 
oral  method.  Of  course  it  has  its  weaknesses,  like 
any  kind  of  system. 

I  think  there's  something  to  the  whole  idea  of 
examinations  actually,  either  written  or  oral.   It 
is  a  test  of  character  in  a  sense.   I  mean,  if  you 
can't  rise  to  an  examination,  why,  you're  not  too 
good.  You  should  be  able  to  muster  yourself  and  do 


Riess:    In  an  oral  way?  Anybody  should  be  able  to? 

Stewart:  Well,  anybody  who  you'd  want  to  pass  for  the  degree 
should  be  able  to  do  it,  yes.  You're  going  to  meet 
crises  all  through  your  life,  and  if  you  can't  meet 
a  crisis...  And  there  are  people  who  can't,  as  far 
as  that's  concerned.  Maybe  sometimes  it's  unjust. 
But  if  a  person  is  good  enough  outside  the  examination, 
then  they  usually  manage  to  get  him  through  sooner  or 

They  had  failed  six  people  in  a  row  before  I 
came  up.  Did  I  tell  you  that?  It  made  it  even  a 
worse  strain,  but  I  figured  I  had  a  tradition  of 
victory;  I  had  always  got  through.  I'd  try  it. 

Riess:    After  Doctor's  Oral  you  wrote,  Take  Your  Bible  in 
Your  Hand? 

Stewart:  That  was  Just  a  little  thing.   The  Dictionary  of 

American  Biography  asked  me  to  do  a  short  piece  on 
this  man  (William  Henry)  Thomes,  and  I  got  interested 
in  him,  and  did  this  little  thing.   It  came  out  as 
one  of  these  private  publications,  very  beautifully 
printed.   Did  you  ever  see  it?  It's  a  very  nice 

Hiess:    Yes.  Colt  Press.  [1939] 

Stewart:  That  was  Jane  Grobhorn.   It's  the  sort  of  thing  that 
takes  you  about  three-quarters  of  an  hour  to  read. 
Again,  I  spent  a  great  deal  more  time  on  that  book 
than  it  really  warranted,  but  it  was  fun  to  do  it, 

Riess:    I  guess  there  are  certain  parallels  between  the 
audience  for  that  book  and  for  John  Phoenix. 

Stewart:  Oh,  I  don't  know,  I  may  have  given  you  more  of  an 
idea  than  is  right  about  doing  something  for  an 
audience.  As  I  look  back,  I've  done  a  lot  just 
because  the  thing  interested  me.   The  puzzle,  or  the 
pleasure,  of  working  it  out  became  fascinating  to  me 
as  such.  Some  of  these  things  I  knew  wouldn't  ever 
get  anywhere  very  much.  So  maybe  I've  exaggerated 
the  other  side. 

Stewart:*  You  wanted  to  know  if  there  was  ever  any  time  when  I 
wanted  to  change  my  life-style  and  become  a  writer 
exclusively.  Of  course,  that  thought  occurred  to  me, 
but  not  too  strongly.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  I  never 
made  any  great  money  by  my  books  in  a  regular  way. 
I  was  not  a  professional  writer  who  could  turn  out 
a  Job  to  specifications.  I  never  did  learn  that  trick. 
I  can't  say  I  ever  tried  too  hard  at  it.  So  I  didn't 
get  involved  too  much  in  the  idea  of  quitting  my 
teaching.   I  felt  I  was  in  a  stronger  position  with 
the  teaching. 

Later  on,  as  you  probably  know,  I  was  only 
teaching  half  time.  I  began  my  half-time  service 
with  the  University  on  July  1,  19^7.  It  was  not 
worked  out  with  Ben  Lehman,  who  was  chairman  of  the 
English  Department,  so  much  as  it  was  directly  with 
Sproul,  as  president.  As  it  turned  out  it  was  a 
very  unusual  situation.  I  am  about  the  only  person 
who  had  enjoyed  that  particular  arrangement. 

The  idea  for  Storm,  as  I  tell  in  the  introduction 
to  the  Modern  Library  edition,  came  to  me  while  I  was 
in  Mexico,  in  the  early  months  of  1938-  To  repeat 
here,  there  were  some  big  storms  in  California  which 
were  reported  in  the  Mexican  newspapers.   It  seemed 
to  me  that  anything  which  was  so  interesting  as  to  be 
reported  to  people  clear  off  in  Mexico,  should  have 
a  story  in  it.   So  I  thought  I  would  write  the  story 
of  what  happened  when  the  storm  hit  California.  When 
I  got  into  the  subject,  I  found  it  was  a  very  much 
greater  subject  than  I  had  had  in  mind  to  start  with. 
I  had  not  known  much  about  meteorology  at  that  point, 
and  I  didn't  realize  that  a  storm  really  has  a  life 
and  growth  and  death  of  itself.  That  was  a  very 
interesting  idea  to  me  when  I  struck  it.   I  saw  very 
soon  that  it  had  tremendous  implications  in  the  book. 

You  suggest  that  this  was  the  investigative  side 
of  my  nature  which  took  over  at  this  point.  That 
certainly  is  true.  There's  no  question  about  that, 
that  I  have  a  tremendous,  well,  you  can  say  curiosity, 
about  all  sorts  of  things.   I  really  went  to  town  on 

*Because  we  had  run  out  of  tape,  George  Stewart  dictated 
the  following  in  a  handheld  mic,  pausing  for  my 
questions,  which  can  be  deduced.   [S.R. ] 



Stewart:  that  matter,  in  connection  with  Storm*   I  did  a  lot 
of  work  on  meteorology.  I  got  introduced  to  the 
Weather  Bureau  in  San  Francisco.   I  used  to  visit 
over  there  at  times,  especially  when  there  were  big 
storms  on.   I  got  a  lot  out  of  that.   I  got  to  be 
very  friendly  with  some  of  those  people,  who  are  all 
gone  now. 

I  also  had  an  arrangement  with  the  University 
on  that.   That  was  with  Monroe  Deutsch.   I  think  he 
held  the  title  of  vice-president  at  that  time.  He 
said,  "Well,  you  can  consider  it  just  as  if  you  were 
a  scientist  at  work  on  something,  and  if  you  have  to 
take  some  time  off  to  go  to  see  something,  why,  that's 
all  right."  He  was  a  very  fine  man  in  that  and  other 

So  when  a  big  storm  came  up,  and  we  knew  it  was 
coming,  Ted  and  I  would  cut  off  and  go  someplace, 
most  often  up  to  Dormer  Pass  to  see  what  was  happening 
there.  Gradually,  I  got  more  and  more  idea  of  the 
possibilities.   I  would  pick  up  stories  and  incidents. 
I  picked  up  the  story  of  Johnnie  Hartley  going  into 
the  dam.   That  actually  happened.  And  the  animal  that 
rolled  down  into  the  culvert  was  not  a  pig  in  the 
original  story.   It  was  a  bull.  But  anyway  it  made 
a  story.   I  shifted  it  to  a  boar  because  somehow  or 
other  it  made  better  sense.  You  could  imagine  a  boar 
being  carried  away  more  easily  than  a  bull,  which  has 
longer  legs.   Obviously  the  other  could  happen,  but 
it's  not  so  easy  to  write  about. 

Then  I  went  with  the  railroads.  The  Western 
Pacific  took  me  up  on  a  little  kind  of  flatcar  all 
through  the  Feather  River  Canyon.  That's  where  I  got 
the  story  of  the  bull.   It  had  nothing  to  do  with  what 
I  saw,  but  I  got  the  story  there. 

Then  the  Southern  Pacific  took  me  through  the 
snow  sheds.   I  rode  in  the  engine  of  a  snowplow 
there.   Of  course  it  was  before  the  streamliner  was 
stuck  in  the  snow.  That  was  an  incident  I  did  not 
use,  because  it  had  not  happened  yet. 

PG  &  E  gave  me  very  good  cooperation.  They  took 
me  up  to  Grass  Valley  one  day  when  there  had  been  a 
little  storm,  and  there  was  damage  around.  And  of 
course  the  story  of  the  dam — that  was  a  PG  &  E  dam, 



Stewart:       And  a  lot  happened  along  the  U.S.  40,  as  it  was 
then.   I  went  up  one  day — I  was  by  myself  this  time — 
and  I  oame  to  a  place  where  there  was  a  telephone 
truck  parked  by  the  road,  and  a  man  getting  out, 
fooling  around  with  equipment.  So  I  stopped  and  asked 
if  I  could  go  in  with  him  to  see  what  he  was  going 
to  do.  He  said,  "Yes."  I  remember  he  gave  me  some 
snowshoes.  We  went  In,  and  here  was  a  wire  gone  bad 
up  on  a  pole.  He  put  on  his  climbers  and  climbed  up 
the  pole.   I  watched  him  from  down  below  as  he  was 
working  at  it.  As  he  was  working  there,  this  tree, 
a  fir  tree  I  think  it  was,  right  close  to  him — I  guess 
it  wasn't  a  fir  tree,  it  was  a  cedar — it  leaned  over. 
The  snow  was  falling  all  the  time.  It  Just  started 
leaning  over.   It  leaned  over  right  against  the  pole. 
I  didn't  say  anything,  because  I  thought  he  saw  what 
was  happening.  He  started  to  climb  down,  and  when  he 
hit  this  tree  he  fell,  right  down  into  the  snow. 

He  wasn't  hurt,  but  he  got  up  and  he  said,  "I 
was  afraid  I  would  fall  on  my  ski  poles,"  which  were 
stuck  in  the  snow  right  at  the  bottom  of  the  pole. 
So  I  used  that  Incident — do  you  remember  that? — almost 
as  it  happened. 

And  then  the  incident  of  the  two  people  and  the 
coyote.  The  two  people  went  off  the  road  and  they 
found  them  because  of  the  coyote  tracks.   I  used  that 
incident.   It  was  funny  on  that  one,  because  I  talked 
to  the  man  who  had  something  to  do  with  finding  them — 
I  think  he  was  the  superintendent  up  there.   I  said 
something  about,  "That  was  very  dramatic  about  the 
coyote  tracks."  He  said,  "Aw,  hell,  there  were  tracks 
all  over  everywhere.  We  didn't  find  them  by  the 
coyote  tracks!   I  put  that  in  because  it  sounded  kind 
of  good."  [laughter]  I  thought  if  it  sounded  pretty 
good  for  him,  it  ought  to  sound  pretty  good  for  me 
too,  so  I  kept  it I 

It  was  strictly  research,  yes.   I  didn't  do  any 
writing  until  I  had  the  thing  all  organized.   I  went 
through  two  winters,  doing  that  kind  of  work.  Then 
of  course,  when  the  spring  came,  after  the  second 
winter,  there  wasn't  any  more  work  I  could  do  on 
research  that  amounted  to  anything,  so  I  began  writing 

In  answer  to  your  question,  I  can  say  that  Random 
House  was  very  much  interested  in  this.   In  fact,  I 


Stewart:  think  that  was  an  important  factor  in  their  publishing 
Doctor's  Oral,  that  they  knew  I  had  the  other  book 
on  the  way.  Doctor's  Oral,  as  I  said,  was  not  a 
particularly  attractive  book  financially,  but  a  good 
publisher  is  always  willing  to  string  along  with  an 
author  when  he  sees  something  that  has  possibilities 
coming  along  in  the  future.  Of  course  they  didn't 
know  if  I  could  do  that  book  or  not.  It  still  was 
pretty  vague,  but  that's  part  of  publishing.  Storm 
hadn't  developed  very  much  at  the  time  I  wrote  the 
contract  for  Doctor's  Oral. 


I'll  say  something  about  Storm  too  on  the 
technical  side.  You  see,  I  already  had  two  novels 
besides  the  Ordeal  by  Hunger,  which  some  people  like 
to  call  a  novel  (anyway,  the  technique  had  something 
the  same).   I'd  been  experimenting.   I've  spoken 
already  about  the  point  of  view,  and  the  question  of 
scene  and  summary,  in  those  books.  So  I  came  to 
Storm t  and  I  still  had  the  same  problem.  You  always 
have  that  problem.  But  here  I  had  a  great  many  themes, 
a  great  many  strands.  I  plotted  this  book  too.  I'm 
a  great  visual  person.  I  like  to  see  things  where 
you  can  look  at  them.  Storm  has  about  a  dozen  threads 
running  through  it.  It  has  the  general  background, 
objectively,  of  the  storm  itself.  It  has  the  weather 
bureau.  And  then  it  has  a  great  many  other  themes, 
some  of  which  run  for  only  a  short  part  of  the  book; 
others  run  all  the  way  through.  Some  disappear 
because — well,  in  one  instance,  the  man  gets  killed, 
and  that's  done. 

By  this  time  I  had  had  enough  experience  to  do 
that  sort  of  thing,  which  is  pretty  difficult,  and 
to  run  these  themes  in  parallel,  I  guess  you'd  call 
it.   It  was  very  lucky  that  I  did  two  novels  before 
I  did  Storm,  before  I  got  the  idea  of  Storm.  Because 
if  I'd  got  the  idea  of  Storm,  say,  right  after  I'd 
written  Ordeal  by  Hunger,  before  I'd  written  any 
novels,  I  probably  would  not  have  had  the  skill  to 
master  it.  I  was  very  lucky  (that  was  one  case  where 
I  was  lucky  in  my  career)  that  I  got  that  bigger 
theme  when  I  was  developed  enough  that  I  was  able  to 
handle  it. 

>e   ~. 



INTERVIEW  VI,  Storm,  Fire,  Names  on  the  Land,  Man; 
beginnings  and  endings  of  books;  work  for  the  Navy; 
a  story;  marriage  to  Theodosia  Burton;  the  Facility 
Club;  loyalty  oath  crisis.  (Recorded  October  12,  1971) 

[continuing  discussion  of  Storm] 

Stewart:  When  I  started  out  I  didn't  know  what  I  had  hold  of 

at  all,  because  I  didn't  know  much  about  meteorology. 
I  had  Just  envisioned  the  story  in  the  format  which 
had  been  done  before,  for  instance  in  Grand  Hotel, 
in  which  you  have  a  certain  number  of  characters  tied 
up  around  some  unity.   In  this  case  it  would  have  been 
the  storm.  That  would  have  made  a  good  enough  book 
too.  But  as  I  got  into  it,  I  saw  the  storm  itself 
had  this  life  and  death  structure,  so  that  the  book 
shifted  to  the  storm,  and  the  people  became  auxiliary 
to  the  storm.  I  think  that  was  the  biggest  stroke  I 
made  in  shaping  the  book  up.  As  far  as  I  know,  nobody's 
ever  done  that  before.  You  can  only  do  it  with  a 
certain  type  of  subject. 

It  came  almost  entirely  as  a  sudden  insight, 
when  I  started  working  on  the  meteorology.   I  saw 
that  there  was  this  evolution  of  a  storm,  something 
which  was  really  discovered  in  the  year  191 7 >  not  so 
very  far  back,  with  the  researches  of  the  great 
Norwegian  meteorologist,  Vllhelm  BJerknes,  who  really 
transformed  all  of  meteorology.  Of  course  it's 
developed  a  good  deal  and  changed  a  good  deal,  but  it 
still  remains  the  basic  conception. 

His  conception  was  of  a  storm  which  began  and 
grew  and  had  a  powerful  period  and  then  died  off. 
That  was  Just  made  for  my  purposes — once  I  saw  that 
there  was  a  cycle  there.  You  have  to  see  it  first, 


Stewart:   of  course.   So  I  began  studying  that  particular  type 
of  storm,  which  wan  the  kind  I  would  have  to  deal 
with  In  California.   (There  are  several  types  of 
storms.  That's  not  the  only  one.  But  this  Is  the 
one  I  had  to  deal  with  on  account  of  my  geographical 
background. ) 

I  found  that  quotation  which  I  used  In  the  front 
of  Storm,  from  Sir  Napier  Shaw,  about  the  story  of 
any  natural  event  being  a  kind  of  fairy  tale.*  That 
was  made  for  my  purposes  also.   I  took  that  up,  and 
that  helped  shape  my  thinking. 

Then  I  had  to  determine  how  long  a  time  this 
was  going  to  cover.  Of  course  I  had  always  envisioned 
it  as  a  short  time  span.  I'm  terribly  interested  in 
the  problem  of  time.  I  would  certainly  go  along  with 
Thornton  Wilder  on  that.**  I'd  had  two  experiments 
already,  you  see.   I  spoke  about  that  In  connection 
with  the  other  two  novels.  This  was  still  another 
way  of  handling  time. 

Then  I  started,  drawing  maps — that's  the  simplest 
way  to  represent  a  storm — and  going  over  to  the 
weather  bureau,  talking  with  the  weather  bureau  people 
over  there.  Then  drawing  more  maps.  Then  I'd  scrap 
them  all  and  start  in  again,  and  figure  out  how  long 
I  needed  to  work  out  all  these  things.  Gradually  the 
twelve  worked  out.  I'm  not  sure  how  much  the  idea 
of  the  magical  number  twelve  had  to  do  with  that.   It 
probably  had  something  to  do  with  it,  because  twelve 
is  a  famous  number. 

Riess:    What's  it  famous  for? 

Stewart:   Oh,  twelve  apostles  [laughing]  and  the  twelve  days  of 
Christmas.  Twelve,  you  see,  is  the  place  where  the 

* "Every  theory  of  the  course  of  events  in  nature  is 
necessarily  based  on  some  process  of  simplification 
of  the  phenomena  and  is  to  some  extent  therefore  a 
fairy  tale."  Sir  Napier  Shaw,  Manual  of  Meteorology; 
I,  123- 

**"... an  unresting  preoccupation  with  the  surprise  of 
the  gulf  between  each  tiny  occasion  of  the  daily 
life  and  the  vast  stretches  of  time  and  place  in 
which  every  individual  plays  his  role."  Writers  at 
Work.  Viking  Press,  1958,  Thornton  Wilder,  p.  113. 

Stewart:  teens  begin.  It's  the  baker's  dozen.  You  buy  eggs 
by  the  dozen.   It's  all  tied  up,  and  it's  a  magical 
number,  along  with  seven.  But  I  don't  know  how 
Important  that  was.   It  probably  had  some  Influence, 
because  It's  very  neat  to  have  things  work  out  that 
way.   It  was  the  right  length  of  time. 

You  see,  I  had  time  to  develop  the  storm,  which 
then  was  very  small.  And  that  gave  me  a  chance  to 
work  up  all  of  my  exposition.  Get  the  characters 
established  in  a  period  of  rest,  and  introduce  things 
like  the  electric  company,,  and  the  highway  patrol  and 
the  snow-sweeping  people.   I  got  them  all  introduced 
in  a  period  of  quiet,  and  then  as  the  storm  grew  up, 
everything  got  going  harder,  you  see.   That  worked  out 
very  nicely. 

If  the  storm  had  started  all  at  once,  bang!  you 
see,  I  would  have  had  a  big  storm  going  and  no  people, 
nothing  for  the  storm  to  fit  into. 

Hiess:    It's  a  matter  of  building  up  tension? 

Stewart:  Yes,  yes.  Getting  people  Interested  in  these  things. 

Of  course  the  people  begin  to  think,  "Well,  something's 
going  to  happen  about  that."  "This  fellow's  riding 
up  the  highway,  and  all  that,  and  it's  going  to  come 
in,"  you  see.  That  worked  out  very  well. 

I  did  some  writing  on  Storm  which  I  junked  because 
it  didn't  fit  in  well  together.   It  was  partly  the 
suggestion  of  the  publishers,  the  editor  there,  Saxe 
Commins.   I  did  quite  a  little  revision  on  Storm. 

Hiess:    What  sort  of  material  did  you  Junk? 

Stewart:  Oh,  I  had  a  couple  who  went  up  the  road  to  get  away 

for  a  weekend,  an  unmarried  couple.  That  was  a  story 
I'd  heard  of,  with  a  twist  at  the  end.   It  wasn't  a 
bad  episode.  They  sent  out  word  that  she  was  having 
a  baby,  and  the  highway  patrol  fought  their  way  in 
through  the  snow  to  get  them  out  of  there.  She  walked 

out  with  obviously  no  baby. 
episode,  but  the  publishers 
of  disturbed  the  book,  as  a 
right.  It's  nice  to  have  a 
it  for  a  change. 

It  was  a  good  enough 
thought  the  sex  theme  sort 
whole.   I  think  they  were 
book  without  any  sex  in 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 


How  did  It  feel  to  have  part  of  the  book  rejected? 

Well,  that  didn't  bother  me,  because  I  don't  think  I 
had  much  heart  in  It  myself.   I  don't  think  I  really 
thought  that  was  too  good.  They  didn't  reject  It.   I 
could  have  kept  It  If  I'd  wanted  to,  but  I  didn't. 
I  agreed  with  them  on  It. 

I  had  the  Idea  that  once  It  was  thought  out,  It  was 
all  so  much  of  a  piece. 

Well,  no.  Storm  in  a  sense  is  not  that  all  together. 
Those  different  threads  could  be  picked  out,  you  see, 
rather  easily.  You  couldn't  pick  out  very  many  of 
them,  or  you  wouldn't  have  any  book  left,   [laughing] 
You  could  pick  out  one  or  two  all  right.  They 
disentangle  very  easily.  Actually,  they  weren't 
connected  crosswise.  They  were  connected  centrally 
on  the  storm  theme,  but  there  were  almost  no  cross- 
connections  between  them.  Each  one  could  come  right 

Has  anybody  used  that  pattern,  now  that  you've  done 
it?  Did  anything  come  out  like  this,  after  Storm? 

No,  not  much.  There  have  been  places  where  people 
have  taken  over  some  part  of  the  technique.  It's 
not  an  easy  thing  to  do,  you  know.   It's  not  easy 
to  get  a  theme  that  will  carry  it.  Most  people  are 
not  interested  in  the  natural  background,  at  least 
not  most  novelists.  They  want  to  emphasize  the 
connection  of  people  all  the  time.   I  wouldn't  say 
that  there's  been  anything  which  has  directly  Imitated 
it,  except  that  fellow  in  Holland  that  plagiarized 
it  pretty  much.   I've  read  books  where  I  could  say, 
'Oh,  there's  something  of  Storm  in  that."  You  can 

see  that  every  now  and  then, 
used  that  technique. 

But  nothing  which  really 

There  was  quite  an  advertising  campaign  that  went 
with  Storm.   That  whole  treatment,  the  autograph 
parties,  etc.,  was  that  the  first  of  your  books  to 
receive  that  kind  of  promotion  from  the  publishers? 

Stewart:   Oh,  I  think  I  had  a  little  of  that  thing  before  that. 

Riess:    With  East  of  the  Giants  did  you  go  around  to  autograph? 

Stewart:  What* s-;his -name,  the  man  who  had  the  bookstore,  the 
father  of  the  man  who  Just  retired,  Elder,  he  used 
to  have  little  parties  pretty  regularly,  and  one 
thing  or  another,  I've  done  things  like  that. 

Rless:    With  Storm,  did  you  tour  the  country? 

Stewart:  Well,  of  course,  there  again,  I  imagine  I  would  have 
done  more  if  it  hadn't  been  for  Pearl  Harbor.  That 
cut  out  that  sort  of  thing.   I  had  offers  to  do 
lectures,  but  I  didn't  take  them  up. 

That  book  had  a  big  circulation,  though.   I 
don't  know  how  many  copies  of  Storm  have  circulated. 
People  ask  me  that  every  now  and  then.   I'm  getting 
now  to  say,  "About  a  million,11  which  might  be  true 
at  the  present  time.  I'm  not  at  all  sure,  because  you 
lose  track  of  these  things,  particularly  paperbacks. 
Publishers  never  give  you  any  real  breakdown  on  how 
many  copies,  and  they  sell  them  by  the  hundreds  of 
thousands.   I  don't  think  they  keep  very  good  track 
themselves.   If  they  get  too  many  in  a  warehouse,  they 
Just  pulp  them  and  start  all  over  again.   I  don't 
think  they  ever  count  them  carefully.   So,  Just 
figuring  the  Book  of  the  Month  Club  and  the  various 
reprints,  Including  all  the  paperbacks  and  so  forth, 
and  the  Modern  Library  going  on  for  twenty  years  or 
more,  I  estimated  it  ten  years  or  so  ago  and  I  came 
up  with  800,000,  so  I  figure  maybe  it's  gone  to  a 
million — I  don't  know.  That  might  not  be  a  long  way 
off.  Of ' course  that  would  count  the  translations  too. 

Riess:    Were  you  a  changed  man  after  all  of  the  success  of 

Stewart:  I  suppose,  to  some  extent,  yes.   I  had  much  more 

confidence  in  myself.  The  additional  money  was  very 
useful  too.   It  gave  me  more  to  come  and  go  on,  and 
do  some  things  that  I  wouldn't  have  been  able  to 
afford  doing  before  that  time.  That  made  a  difference. 

Riess:    Is  there  anything  else  that  you  would  like  to  say 
about  Storm? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  would  like  to  say  something  sometime  about 

beginnings  and  endings.  Have  I  talked  about  that  yet? 

Stewart:       Storm  has  a  remarkably  good  beginning  and  ending, 
and  that's  not  an  accident.   I  worked  that  out  very 
carefully  in  both  cases.  I  consider  myself  a 
specialist  on  beginnings I   I  more  or  less  felt,  why 
throw  away  your  first  sentence?  That's  the  sentence 
that  you  catch  a  person  with.   If  you  can  catch  a 
person  with  the  first  sentence,  well,  catch  them  and 
don't  let  them  get  away.  That's  my  attitude. 

I  know  I've  had  people  tell  me  that.  A  man  said 
that  starting  one  of  my  books  was  like  eating  the 
first  peanut.  You  can't  stop,  because  something  goes 
on.   If  you  look  at  my  books,  you  will  see  that  most 
of  them  start  with — all  with  a  careful  sentence,  and 
I  think  most  of  them  with  a  striking  sentence.   Of 
course  Earth  Abides  is  the  most  remarkable  one.  It 
always  took  my  breath  away,  and  it  does  other  people 

Also  I'm  very  particular  about  the  ending,  because 
that's  what  leaves  the  last  taste  in  a  person's  mouth, 
the  ending  of  the  story,  the  very  wording  and  everything. 
So  I  want  to  be  careful  with  the  beginning  and  ending. 

Riess:    Do  your  endings  sum  up  in  some  way? 

Stewart:  Oh  yes.  I  try  to  sum  up  and  to  call  up  the  rest  of 
the  story  one  way  or  another.  That's  the  old  trick 
of  swinging  back  to  the  beginning.  That's  always  a 
good  trick.  I  did  that  a  good  deal. 

Riess:    I  will  go  back  and  fill  in  some  beginnings  and  endings 
for  the  manuscript.  But  why  don't  you  quote  some 

Stewart:  Well,  the  first  sentence — I  can't  quote  them  all,  I'm 
very  sorry,  but  I  know  what  they're  like.  The  first 
sentence  of  Storm,  you  see,  has  one  word  in  there 
which  is  of  great  importance,  which  nobody  would  notice 
probably.*  Yet  I  have  had  people  speak  of  it.  That 
is,  the  fact  that  it's  in  the  past  tense.   "The  earth 

*Storm;   "Enveloped  in  the  gaseous  film  of  the 
atmosphere,  half -covered  by  a  skim  of  water  forming 
the  oceans — the  great  sphere  of  the  earth  spun  upon 
its  axis  and  moved  inflexibly  in  its  course  around 
the  sun. " 


*-.         FS 


Stewart:   spun  upon  Its  axis."  That  catches  people's 

attention  immediately.   I  don't  know  whether  you  see 
that  or  not. 

But  the  point  is,  we  think  of  the  earth  as  a 
continuous  process,  and  when  you  say  "the  earth  spun," 
it  means  that  this  is  one  particular  moment  of  time. 
And  the  whole  book  goes  on  that.  This  is  what's 
happening  right  now.  It's  a  natural  phenomenon,  it's 
a  recurrent  phenomenon,  but  you're  dealing  with  this 
particular  instant. 

Here's  where  my  study  of  Russian  came  in,  and 
the  aspects  of  the  verb.  English  has  aspects  too, 
really.  We  call  them  tenses  in  English,  but  they 
really  are  aspects.  I  learned  that  when  I  studied 
Russian,  from  my  professor.  Well,  a  little  theoretical 
background.   I  knew  perfectly  well  what  I  was  doing 
when  I  wrote  that  past  tense  there. 

Earth  Abides  starts  out  about  the  United  States 
being  dissolved,  "By  order  of  the  Acting  President. 
God  save  the  people  of  the  United  States..."1  That's 
a  very  startling  sentence.  You  must  make  a  first 
sentence  do  as  much  work  as  you  can,  too.  Establish 
everything  you  possibly  can.   In  two  of  my  nonflotion 
books,  I  tried  to  establish  the  authenticity  of  the 
story  in  the  first  sentence.   "'Tamsen  Dormer  was  sad 
as  the  wagons  turned  aside,'  Mr.  Thornton  noted  in  his 
diary."  I  gave  the  authority  for  it  right  there. 
And  the  same  in  Pickett's  Charge.  The  sentence  I 
worked  over  tremendously  was  the  first  sentence  of 
Sheep  Rock.   I  can't  quote  it  to  you,  but  I  remember 
a  funny  little  incident  about  that,  speaking  about 
editorial  work.   I  was  going  to  bring  this  up  when 
we  came  to  Sheep  Rockt  but  I  can  mention  it  now  Just 
as  well. 

I  went  to  New  York.  I  had  sent  the  manuscript 
on  some  time  before,  and  Saxe  Commins  had  read  it,  and 
he  said,  "Well,  there  isn't  much  I  would  suggest  doing 
with  that  manuscript,  but  we  might  take  a  look  at  it." 
So  he  got  it  out  and  he  said,  "You  know,  I  think  we 
ought  to  cut  that  comma  out  of  that  first  sentence." 
I  looked  at  it  and  I  didn't  really  think  so.   I  thought 
we'd  better  keep  it.  But  that  was  the  only  suggestion 
that  was  made,  and  I  thought,  politely,  "Well,  maybe 
he's  right."  [laughter]  So  I  said,  "All  right.   Cut 
it  out." 

Stewart:       I  went  back  to  the  hotel,  and  I  got  to  thinking 
about  it,  "I'm  right.  That  comma  ought  to  be  there." 
So  I  called  up  the  next  morning  and  said,  "Hey,  Saxe. 
Would  you  mind  putting  that  comma  back  in?"  He  said, 
"Well,  no.   I  wouldn't  mind.  That's  all  right  if  you 
want  it  there.   I'll  put  it  back  in."  So  that  was 
the  editorial  work  on  Sheep  Rook.  I  wanted  that 
comma  there  to  slow  the  movement  a  little  bit.  That 
was  really  why  I  wanted  it. 

Some  time  I'd  better  give  a  reading  of  first 
and  last — openings  and  closings  of  my  books.  I'd 
like  to  read  them  some  time. 

Host  novelists,  you  know,  don't  go  in  for 
striking  first  sentences.   One  of  the  really  famous 
ones,  of  course,  is  the  one  from  Moby  Dick.   "Call 
me  Ishmael."  That's  a  sentence  that  catches  your 
attention,  right  off.  Then  you've  got  Dickens,  "It 
was  the  best  of  times,  it  was  the  worst  of  times," 
and  so  forth.  That's  a  famous  one.  But  there  are  not 
very  many  famous  first  sentences. 

Riess:    What  was  the  first  sentence  of  Fire? 

Stewart:  That  was  about  the  thundercloud,  the  storm  sweeping 
north  over  the  crests  of  the  mountains,  with  all  its 
lightning  striking  here  and  there.*  That's  a  good 

Riess:    I  think  your  first  sentences  tend  then  to  have  a  touch 
of  the  ominous. 

Stewart:  Well,  that's  often  been  said  about  my  work,  that  I 

was  a  chronicler  of  catastrophe.  That's  not  altogether 
true,  because  after  all  I'm  a  chronicler  of  the  ecology, 
and  in  ecology  there  isn't  any  good  or  bad,  really. 
It's  how  it  plays  into  the  whole  scheme  of  things.  So 
Storm,  as  I  always  try  to  emphasize,  both  in  the  book 
and  out  of  it,  is  not  a  disaster.  The  storm,  after 
all,  is  a  necessary  part — you've  got  to  get  the  rain. 
California  would  be  dead  without  the  rain  and  the  snow 
that  comes.  So  it's  not  a  disaster. 

^"Suddenly  ablaze  with  lightnings,  the  piled-up 
thundercloud  swept  northwards  across  the  tops  of 
the  mountains." 

Riess:    That's  what  the  book  tells,  but  for  somebody  who 
doesn't  know  as  much  as  you  do — 

Stewart:  Yes.   They  were  always  melodramatizlng  Storm,  and 

building  up  the  action — "this  Is  the  greatest  storm 
of  the  century,"  and  that  sort  of  thing.   I  kept 
saying  all  the  time,  "This  is  what  happens  every 
year."  Nobody  ever  paid  any  attention  to  that. 

If  I  were  writing  Fire  now,  I  would  change  the 
approach  of  it  a  little  bit.   I've  come  to  realize, 
better  than  I  did  at  the  time,  that  fire  too  is  an 
ecological  phenomenon.   Fire  is  not  necessarily  a 
bad  thing  in  itself,  it's  only  if  it  gets  in  the  wrong 
place.   It  is  part  of  the  cycle,  really.   Of  course, 
it's  been  disturbed  by  man,  because  it's  mostly 
burning  in  second  growth  stuff  already.  But  not 
altogether.   It  destroys  something  here  and — of  course 
the  deer  come  back.  There  are  a  great  many  more  deer 
after  a  fire,  you  see,  than  there  are  before.  So  as  far 
as  the  deer  are  concerned,  it  really  builds  them  up. 

Riess:    Why  is  that? 

Stewart:  Well,  they  live  on  brush.  A  big  forest  is  almost 

barren.  That's  what  most  people  don't  realize.  All 
this  sentiment  about  big  trees  is  really  a  love  of 
the  desert,  in  a  way,  because  nothing  much  lives  in 
big  trees.  A  few  squirrels  and  some  martens  to  eat 
them,  that's  about  all.  When  you  get  the  second 
growth,  that's  when  the  animals  come  in.  You  get  rich 
life  that  comes  after  a  fire.  There's  something  of 
that  in  the  book,  but  not  too  much.  I  would  shift 
that  a  little  if  I  were  writing  it  again. 

Riess:    Do  you  think  that  people  feel  what's  lacking  in  a  big 
forest  in  that  way? 

Stewart:  No,  they  just  get  sentimental  about  the  big  trees, 

*Ed's  Note:  Fire  ends:   "Moist  and  clean,  the  north 
west  wind  from  the  ocean  blew  steadily  across  the 
long  ridges,  and  from  high-swinging  cones,  opened  by 
the  fiery  heat,  the  winged  seeds  drifted  downward  to 
the  earth. " 

Stewart:  which  ^ive  them  a  sense  of  awe  to  look  at,  I  guess. 
I've  never  been  a  big  tree  man  myself.   I  think  the 
young  forest  Is  often  much  more  beautiful  than  the 
old  forest,  fresher  and  greener  and  growing  so  fast. 
It's  youth,  whereas  the  big  trees  are  Just  the  old  men. 
They're  Just  standing  there,  waiting  to  fall  over 
someday I 

Riess:  The  thing  about  going  to  big  trees  is  the  experience 
of  looking  up  through  the  tops. 

Stewart:  It's  partly  that.  It's  partly  the  sentiment  which 
has  been  built  up  over  a  hundred  years  or  so.   I've 
often  argued  about  that,  that  the  young  trees  are 
really  more  beautiful. 

Riess:    Do  the  last  sentences  come  round  from  the  first 
sentence?  In  the  case  of  Storm,  does  the  last 
sentence  say  something  about  the  spinning  earth? 

Stewart:  Oh,  yes,  it  does.  That's  a  nice  sentence,  the  last 
sentence  there.   "It  gave  no  sign  that  storms  or  man 
disturbed  its  tranquil  round.  Bright  against  the 
black  of  midnight,  or  yellow  at  the  dawn,  it  hung  in 
the  sky — unflickering  and  serene."  It's  a  nice 
sentence.   It  does  give  you  the  earth  in  space  again. 
You're  drawn  off  from  it.  You're  so  far  away  that 
you  don't  have  any  impression  of  storms  or  anything. 

Maybe  we  should  have  a  few  books  in  here  so  I 
could  read  you  some  of  the  sentences. 

Riess:  Some  writers  include  significant  quotes,  like  your's 
from  Sir  Napier  Shaw.  And  there  are  sometimes  other 
clues  and  prefatory  material  in  a  book. 

Stewart:  All  my  books  start  right  off.   I  mean,  after  all,  that 
one  little  sentence  by  Sir  Napier  Shaw  is  not  enough 
to  do  much.  I  keep  away  from  prefaces.  You  noticed 
that.  Practically  never.   I  hit  the  first  sentence 
and  go.   I  can't  see  the  point  of  having  a  lot  of 
stuff  in  front  of  your  book.  You  might  as  well  get 
it  going.   If  you  want  to  have  an  introduction,  put 
it  at  the  end.  That's  what  I've  done.  And  acknowledge 
ments  and  that  kind  of  thing. 

Riess:    In  Doctor's  Oral,  then,  it's  all  part  of  the  book. 


Stewart:  I  would  call  that  part  of  the  book,  yes.  That  might 
be  called  a  kind  of  introduction,  but  I  haven't  even 
had  that  much  mostly.  I've  got  about  a  paragraph  in 
The  Years  of  the  City.  But  mostly  not. 

Why  throw  it  away?  Take  it  from  an  advertiser's 
point  of  view — that's  the  best  position  you  have,  the 
very  first  page.  That's  your  point  of  emphasis.  You 
see,  all  those  devices  like  paragraphs  and  chapters 
should  be  used  for  points  of  emphasis.  Anybody  is 
bound  to  be  affected  by  all  that  white  space. 

Riess:    Do  chapters  tend  to  end  at  a  time — in  your  writing — a 
time  where  you  would  halt  for  the  day? 

Stewart:  Oh,  partly.   If  I  were  somewhere  near  the  end  of  my 

day,  and  I  came  to  the  end  of  a  chapter,  I  would  quit, 
yes.  But  I  generally  conceived  a  chapter  as  a  kind 
of  unit  which  creates  an  effect — in  some  books  more 
important  than  others.  In  East  of  the  Giants,  for 
instance,  the  chapter  was  very  important.  But  a 
chapter  never  can  be  conceived  as  a  complete  unit, 
because  you  don't  want  the  person  to  quit  reading. 
After  all,  the  chapter  should  lean  upon  the  next 
chapter,  so  that  they  go  right  on. 

Riess:    What  about  the  ending  sentences  in  chapters?  Do  they 
have  a  certain  value  that  you  calculate,  also? 

Stewart:  The  paragraph  has,  certainly,  and  the  last  sentence 
of  a  chapter  is  important.  The  first  sentence  too. 
But  it  shouldn't  have  quite  the  same  importance, 
because  it  isn't  a  thing  in  itself.   It  leads  on  to 
the  next  one.  So  it  should  be  leading  ahead,  not 
giving  too  great  a  sense  of  "this  is  the  end,"  you 
see.  Because  you  never  know — you  never  have  the 
perfect  reader.  You  always  imagine  the  perfect 
reader,  but — 

Riess:    Oh,  tell  me  what  the  perfect  reader  would  bet 

Stewart:  Well,  the  perfect  reader  is  the  one  who  would  always 

have  good  conditions  under  which  to  read.  The  doorbell 
and  telephone  wouldn't  ring,  and  so  forth,  so  you 
would  have  control  of  him.  He  would  understand  what 
you  were  doing,  would  have  a  similar  background.  Not 
the  same  background,  of  course,  but  a  similar  back 
ground.  In  my  books,  particularly,  I  had  to  explain 
certain  things  as  I  go  along,  Juggle  two  or  three  balls 





at  once.   This  reader  would  follow  right  along, 
would  be  attuned  to  your  reader,  you  see. 



Then  of  course  he  would  always  stop  reading  at 
the  end  of  a  chapter.  He  would  never  stop  reading  in 
the  middle  of  a  chapter.  He  would  also  stop  at  the 
proper  places  otherwise  too.  That's  something  you 
can't  really  do.   I  don't  think  you  want  a  reader  to 
read  the  whole  book  at  once.  Most  of  my  books  are 
too  long  for  that.  Sometimes  people  write  me  that 
they  have,  but  I  don't  think  reading  up  till  three 
o'clock  in  the  morning  really  gives  a  book  a  very 
good  chance,  because  I  think  the  reader  gets  too  tired. 
So  to  have  the  perfect  reader,  you  would  have  the  one 
who  would  break  off  his  reading  at  just  the  proper 
time.  Not  just  one  chapter,  but  say  he  read  four  or 
five  chapters,  or  something  like  that.   So  you  see, 
you  could  have  a  perfect  reader. 

Do  you  think  the  perfect  reader  wouldn't  have  to  go 
back  and  check  material? 

Stewart:  No,  he  wouldn't  ever.  He'd  remember.  That's  asking 
a  good  deal  of  a  reader! 

Riess:    That's  asking  a  good  deal  of  a  writer,  too! 

Stewart:  Well,  you  see,  unless  you  wrote  for  a  perfect,  or  a 
special  reader,  you  wouldn't  ever  know.  Because  you 
never  know  when  you're  saying  things  too  often.  For 
instance,  how  often  should  you  repeat  a  character's 
name?  I  think  several  times,  because  the  ordinary 
reader  is  going  to  forget  it,  and  then  if  you  bring 
it  out  all  of  a  sudden,  he  won't  pick  up  who  the 
person  is.   So  you  string  along,  you  give  him  the 
name  two  or  three  times,  maybe  even  oftener.  But 
that  may  be  an  insult  to  a  really  good  reader,  [laughing] 
He'd  say,  "Why  are  they  giving  me  this  so  much  for?" 
You  don't  know. 

A  really  keen  reader — well,  sometimes,  of  course, 
it  can  go  the  other  way.  Sometimes  they  read  too 
fast  also.   I  think  you  get  one  of  these  really  high- 
powered,  high  IQ  readers,  they  sometimes  will  read  too 
fast.  They  don't  savor  what's  going  on.  As  I  say, 
you're  up  against  an  impossibility.  You  just  hit  a 
certain  average  in  there,  with  a  shotgun  method,  and 
you  hope  that  you  get  people  who  will  be  able  to  read 
it  well  enough.   If  they  can't  remember  the  character's 


Stewart:  name,  they  won't  worry  about  It,  or  else  they'll  go 
back  and  look  it  up  again,  or  something  like  that. 
But  you  can't  be  absolutely  sure. 

Hi  ess:    I  think  that  someday  you  should  play  with  the  idea 
of  writing  the  same  story  for  the  limping,  lame 
reader  and  for  your  perfect  reader. 

Stewart:  That  would  be  fun,  wouldn't  it?  I  don't  know  that  I 
even  write  for  the  perfect  reader.   I  think  I  look 
upon  my  reader  as  needing  some  help.   I  need  help  when 
I  read  a  book.   I  have  trouble  picking  up  character's 
names.   I  hate  these  books  that  throw  so  many 
characters  at  you  so  fast,  and  don't  give  you  much 
clue  to  remembering  who  is  tied  up  with  which  name, 
that  kind  of  thing. 

I  read  this  book  on  the  San  Francisco  earthquake, 
Just  finished  it,  and  every  time  they  mention  Funston, 
they  referred  to  him  as  Brigadier  General  Funston.   I 
got  sick  of  reading  that  Brigadier  General  Funston. 
I  knew  him  by  that  time,  you  seel  And  every  time  they 
referred  to  the  mayor,  they  called  him  Mayor  Schmitz. 
They  could  have  Just  called  him  Schmitz,  once  they 
got  him  introduced.  But  I  thought  that  was  a  very 
funny  book  in  that  respect. 

No,  I  can  see  my  reader  as  a  person  that  has  to 
be  snared,  and  then  held.  He's  always  trying  to  get 
away.   Something's  always  taking  him  away  from  my  book! 
[laughing]  And  so  that's  really  my  attitude  towards 
the  reader.   I  make  every  effort  to  hold  him,  once — 
I  get  him  in  the  first  sentence  and  then  don't  let 
him  get  away.  And  I  must  have  been  fairly  successful. 

I  had  a  club  meeting  last  night,  and  here  was 
Frank  Gerbode,  who  is  one  of  the  big  surgeons  of  the 
city.  He  was  sitting  beside  me.  He  started  talking 
about  Earth  Abides.   It  turned  out  that  his  wife 
Martha  was  critically  ill  (she  has  since  died),  and 
they'd  got  the  house  full  of  nurses.  He  said  it  was 
the  second  time  round  on  Earth  Abides.  All  the  family 
read  it  once  before  and  now  they're'  reading  it  again. 
He  said  the  nurses  are  reading  it.  So  that's  very 

Actually  I  think  that's  probably  a  good  book  to 
die  by.   It's  not  religious,  and  yet  it  has  a  certain 
feeling  in  the  last  part  there.  I  know  when  Mrs. 


Stewart:  Stewart  had  her  stroke  I  got  out  Earth  Abides  and  read 
all  the  last  part  of  it.  It  was  very  comforting. 

Hi  ess:    It's  nice  that  you  like  your  books. 

Stewart:   Well,  I  donft  read  them  very  often.  When  a  book  comes 
out  in  'a  reprint,  I  sometimes  do  read  it,  because 
people  start  asking  me  questions  every  now  and  then, 
and  you  forget.  You  don't  remember  all  the  details 
of  a  book  forever.  I  often  read  something  that  way, 
and  I'm  usually  happy. 

Let's  talk  about  Names  on  the  Land.   That  book 
has,  in  many  ways,  been  my  favorite  of  all  the  books 
I've  done.  I  don't  know  if  I  would  say  that  as  an 
absolute,  but  one  reason  is  that  it's  the  most 
difficult  book  I  ever  did.   It  came  out  so  that  it 
pleased  me  quite  well  in  the  end.  That's  important, 
because  after  all,  something  you  worked  terribly  hard 
at  and  had.  a  terrific  struggle  trying  to  master, 
naturally,  you're  impressed  when  you're  able  to  do 
something  with  it. 

Riess:    When  did  you  start  on  it? 

Stewart:   I  started  on  that  immediately  after  I  finished  Storm. 
I  worked  very  hard  on  it.   Of  course  I  had  a  good 
background  on  it  before  I  started,  because  I'm 
Interested  in  names.  And  I  had  a  pretty  well  vacant 
year  at  Princeton  there,  on  that  fellowship,  so  I  did 
a  lot  of  work  there.  The  greatest  trouble,  though, 
was  not  the  research  in  the  ordinary  sense,  although 
that  was  a  big  Job,  a  hard  job  also.  But  the  greatest 
Job  was  trying  to  shape  the  material  into  something 
that  you  could  do.  There's  no  model  for  that  book  at 
all.  It  is  absolutely  on  its  own.  And  I  was  able  to 
do  that.  That  naturally  pleased  me  very  much  that  I 
got  it  that  way. 

It's  written  in  a  somewhat  unusual  style,  too. 
Possibly  a  little  too  self-consciously.  For  instance — 
I  don't  think  there's  a  single  use  of  the  do  or  did, 
paraphrastic  negative,  you  know? 

Riess:    No,  I  don't  know. 

Stewart:  Well,  when  you  say  "I  did  not,"  or  "he  did  not."  That's 
avoided,  I  think  all  the  way  through  there.   I  don't 
think  I  ever  used  that.  At  that  time  I  decided  I  didn't 



like  it.  You  can  always  avoid  it — I  may  have  made 
a  few  slips.  I  don't  think  so,  though. 

And  another  thing,  I  used  the  relative  pronoun 
"which"  all  the  time  instead  of  "that."  I'm  not  sure 
that's  too  good,  always,  but  that  was  my  style.  I 
was  doing  that. 


Why  did  you? 


Well,  the  "did"  business  is  not  graceful,  really, 
a  roundabout  way  of  saying  something.   It's  one  of 
these — it's  a  kind  of  a  box  that  the  English  language 
got  itself  caught  up  in.   I  didn't  like  it  at  that 
time.  I  don't  like  it  now.   I  keep  away  from  it 
pretty  much.  Even  so,  that  was  doctrinaire  in  Names 
on  the  Land. 

Riess:    Would  one  notice  it  In  reading  it? 

Stewart:  No,  I  don't  think  you  would.   I  don't  think  anybody 
ever  knows  i^.   I've  never  told  anybody  except  you. 
That  isn't  the  point.  I  think  the  style  of  the  book — 
that's  one  reason  I  like  it,  it's  probably  the  best 
I  ever  did,  or  one  of  the  best.  There  are  passages 
in  that  book  which  have  always  been  very  moving  to  me. 
Have  you  read  that  one? 

Hless:    I  skipped  through  it,  looking  up  places  I  knew. 

Stewart:  Well,  it's  not  for  everybody,  that  book,  although  it's 
appealed  to  a  pretty  good  number  of  people.  But  as 
I  say,  it's  been  in  many  ways  my  favorite  book  of  all 
of  them. 

Riess:    You  were  mentioning  some  of  the  favorite  passages. 

Stewart:  Yes.  Well,  I  like  the  opening  of  that  book,  and  the 
ending.*  They're  both  very  good.  I  hope  you  don't 
mind  my  being  so  complimentary  to  my  own  books! 

*Names  on  the  Land;   "Once,  from  eastern  ocean  to 
western  ocean,  the  land  stretched  away  without  names. 
Nameless  headlands  split  the  surf... Men  came  at  last, 
tribe  following  tribe..." 

"After  all  else  has  passed,  the  names  may  yet 
remain. * 



Riess:    No,  and  I  hope  you  don't  mind  the  fact  that  I  can't 
quote  them  to  you. 

Stewart:  Well,  I  can't  quote  them  either,  as  a  matter  of  fact. 
I  know  both  the  beginning  and  ending  of  that  book. 
I  hit  off  all  right.  It  starts  off  with  a  passage 
about  when  there  were  no  names,  and  then  it  ends  at 
the — one  thing  I  was  never  quite  happy  about  was 
that  when  they  put  out  the  new  edition  of  that  book 
they  covered  up  my  original  ending.   I  didn't  like 
that.  One  of  those  jams  you  get  into.  At  least  I 
know  just  how  it  should  be. 

The  way  they  did  it — well,  it  was  a  mechanical 
problem,  partly  my  fault.   I  didn't  realize  what  they 
were  going  to  do.  They  just  covered  up  the  original 
ending.  They  added  some  more  chapters  to  it,  you  see. 

Riess:    And  tried  to  use  the  original  plates? 

Stewart:  Yes,  they  used  the  original  plates.  The  book  was 

badly  set  up.  Or  not  badly  set  up,  but  it  was  set  up 
during  war  time,  and  it  didn't  have  whole  pages  blank 
at  the  end  of  chapters.   It's  an  interesting  example 
of  the  problem  you  can  get  into  with  a  mechanical 
problem  like  that.  Again,  a  thing  most  people  wouldn't 
think  of. 

Riess:    How  is  Names  on  the  Land  organized? 

Stewart:   It's  organized  chronologically,  that's  all.  As  well 
as  it  can  be.  Of  course  very  few  things  can  be 
organized  absolutely  chronologically. 

But  here,  you  see,  you  have  to  have  the  general 
scheme  in  chronological  order,  but  you  have  to  package 
it  up  in  one  way.  For  instance,  there  will  come  along 
a  chapter  where  you  have  to  get  in  the  French  influence, 
and  of  course  you  put  that  in  where  it  more  or  less 
belongs  chronologically,  but  it  may  extend  over  a  good 
many  years  Itself,  you  see.  So  you  have  to  package 
it  in.   It  gets  to  be  somewhat  difficult  at  times  to 
handle  that.  You  do  the  best  you  can. 

Riess:    You  always  saw  it  as  a  history,  rather  than  a 

Stewart:   Oh  yes,  that's  the  whole  point,  the  story  of  how  the 
names  are  given,  how  the  names  came  to  the  United 
States,  how  they  filled  in  the  map.  There's  never 


Stewart:  been  anything  like  that  really,  I  don't  think  even 

yet.  You  can't  do  it  in  most  countries,  "because  you 
don't  have  the  data.   In  the  United  States  you've  got 
pretty  good  data. 

Riess:    Did  you  do  maps  with  it,  or  include  them? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  didn't  need  to  do  maps  particularly  with 

that,  no.  You  could  have  done  maps.   I  had  printed 
some  maps  in  the  revised  edition,  the  new  edition. 
But  the  maps  are  chiefly  statistical.  They  weren't 
very  useful  to  me. 

Riess:    I  was  thinking  of  something  like  layering  of  the  colors 
of  the  different  influences  of  countries,  maybe. 

Stewart:   Oh  yes.  There's  been  a  great  deal  of  that  done  in 

European  name  study  mostly.  But  that  was  really  not 
the  sort  of  thing  I  wanted  to  do  in  this  book.  I 
wasn't  approaching  it  from  a  mass  statistical  approach. 

Riess:    At  this  point,  was  Random  House  Just  taking  everything 
you  wrote,  or  did  you  have  to  sell  them  on  this  idea? 

Stewart:  They  took  everything.  At  least,  I  wrote  a  contract 
for  that  as  soon  as  I  had  finished — well,  when  I  was 
in  New  York,  the  time  that  Storm  came  out. 

Names  on  the  Land  sold  fairly  well.   I  can't 
remember  exactly.   It  got  the  front  page  of  the  New 
York  Herald  Tribune,  which  was  one  of  the  big  reviews 
in  those  times.  And  it  got  very  good  reviews,  some  of 
the  best  reviews  I  ever  got. 

Riess:    [Having  turned  over  tape...]  You  were  going  to  read 
some  beginning  and  ending  sentences. 

Stewart:  Well,  here's  Earth  Abides,  of  course.   "And  the  govern 
ment  of  the  United  States  of  America  is  herewith 
suspended,  except  in  the  District  of  Columbia,  as  of 
the  emergency."  I  think  that's  a  good  sentence. 

Riess:    Yes,  that  is  I 

Stewart:  And  here's  the  last  of  that  book,  the  last  paragraph, 
two  or  three  little  sentences.   "Then,  though  his 
sight  was  now  very  dim,  he  looked  again  at  the  young 
man.   'They  will  commit  me  to  the  earth,'  he  thought, 
'yet  I  also  commit  them  to  the  earth.  There's  nothing 


Stewart:  else  by  which  men  live.  Men  go  and  come,  but  earth 
abides."1  That's  actually  the  first  time,  I  think, 
"earth  abides"  is  mentioned,  given  as  so  many  words, 
in  the  book. 

Here's  Sheep  Rock,  the  sentence  I  was  talking 
about  before.   "A  thousand  years  and  more,  by  then, 
had  passed — since  the  silty  waters  of  the  dwindling 
lake,  withdrawing,  had  let  the  spring  once  more  begin 
to  bubble  out  beneath  the  open  sky." 

The  comma  that  we  argued  about  was  the  one  after 
"then."  "A  thousand  years  and  more,  by  then,..." 
I  wanted  a  little  pause  in  there.  It  wasn't  necessary 
grammatically,  but  it's  all  right  grammatically  to  put 
a  comma  there,  and  it  slows  down  the  action.  There 
again,  you  see,  was  the  idea  of  time.   "A  thousand 
years  and  more,  by  then,  had  passed..."  It  isn't  a 
definition  of  when  "then"  is,  but  you've  arrived  at 
some  point,  you  see,  dated  by  being  a  thousand  years 
and  more  from  some  other  point. 

A  lot  of  this  book  dealt  with  long  periods  of 
time.   I  coined  words  in  there.  There  was  no  unit  of 
time  longer  than  a  millennium  in  ordinary  usage, 
which  doesn't  do  at  all.  So  I  coined  "decimillennium" 
and  "centimillennium,"  and  I  used  "millennium"  for  a 
million  years.   I  doubt  if  you'd  find  those  anywhere 
else,  but  it's  pretty  obvious  what  they  mean.  I  really 
needed  them  in  this  book,  because  I  was  dealing  in 
periods  very  much  longer  than  a  thousand  years.  Let's 
see  what  the  ending  of  that  is.   I  don't  remember 

This  is  about  the  mountain  sheep  that  they  saw: 
"The  two  men  sat  up,  and  after  a  few  minutes  the  ram 
reappeared,  as  he  went  up  across  one  of  the  old  beaches 
and  around  the  shoulder  of  the  high  black  rock.  Still 
watching,  they  saw  him  again  far  off  and  little,  as 
he  climbed  the  red  slope  of  the  mountain,  till  at  the 
crest  he  suddenly  faded  out  into  the  brightness  of  the 

Riess:    There's  a  lot  that's  very  poetic  abo.ut  your  writing. 

Stewart:   I  always  thought  of  myself  that  way.   I  don't  exactly 
know  what  a  poet  is,  but  I  always  wrote  with  that  in 
mind.   Sheep  fiook  is  probably  my  most  poetic  book,  I 



Stewart:  suppose  people  would  say,  the  way  it's  put  together. 

Riess:    That's  Just  the  way  it  came  out?  Or  did  you  work 
over  the  passage? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  worked  over  it  plenty,   [laughing]  It  came 
out  somewhere.   I'd  have  to  look  at  my  manuscript  to 
find  that  out.  You'd  find  a  lot  of  erasing  on  that. 

Riess:    When  you  finished  Names  on  the  Land,  did  you  have  any 
of  the  subsequent  names  books  in  mind? 

Stewart:  No.   It  was  a  long  time  before  I  took  them  up.  I 
didn't  see  much  else  I  could  do  along  that  line  at 
the  time.   Oh,  I  did  think  about  it  a  little  bit  as 
I  remember,  too,  but  I  decided  not  to  do  anything  more 
about  it,  then.   I'd  done  a  good  Job  on  that  one, 
and  it's  a  good  idea  to  quit  when  you've  done  a  good 

About  Man — that  I  suppose  is  the  most  "tour  de 
force"  thing  I  ever  did.   I'm  not  sure  what  a  tour  de 
force  is.  Most  of  my  books  have  been  so  called.   I 
don't  like  the  term  particularly  well.   It  always 
implies  something  superficial  or  artificial.  But  Man 
is  my  greatest  example  of  simplification,  and  turned 
out  to  be  over-simplification.  People  didn't  like 
the  thing  being  made  so  easy.  It  had  a  pretty  good 
reception.  It  got  some  big  reviews,  surprisingly  so. 

I  still  think  it's  a  good  book,  but  it's  over 
simplified,  probably.  At  least  that  seems  to  be  the 
general  opinion. 

Riess:    You  mention  simplification  as  one  of  the  things  you 
were  working  at  as  a  writer. 

Stewart:   Oh  yes.   I  don't  think  you  can  get  things  too  simple, 
myself.  But  other  people  don't  look  at  it  that  way. 
It  seems  to  me  that  the  story  of  man,  seen  that  way, 
is  a  very  simple  thing  in  many  ways,  if  you  look  at 
it  with  big  enough  perspective.  It  gets  completely 
fouled  up  by  people  putting  "whereases"  and  "possibly 's" 
and  one  thing  and  another.  But  if  you  get  far  enough 
away  to  look  at  it,  it  becomes  a  very  simple  and  very 
fascinating  story,  and  a  moving  story.  That's  really 
what  I  tried  to  do,  tell  it  in  as  simple  as  possible 
terms,  using  the  device  of  having  man  speaking  in  his 


Stewart:  own  person,  which  of  course  raised  a  lot  of  obvious 
Impossibilities.  There's  where  the  tour  de  force 
comes  in. 

At  times  you  have  a  problem  whether  it's  a  man 
or  a  woman  speaking,  and  that  kind  of  thing.  But 
it  worked  out  I  think  all  right.  It  had  a  pretty 
good  success  at  the  time  it  came  out,  but  it  hasn't 
held  up  as  well  as  it  really  ought  to,  I  think.  It's 
almost  what  you'd  call  a  young  adult  book,  I  think. 
It's  almost  in  some  ways  a  Juvenile. 

There's  one  sentence  in  it  which  has  been  picked 
out  and  apparently  it's  becoming  a  classic  sentence. 
I've  seen  it  quoted  in  two  or  three  different  books. 
I  think  they  quote  from  each  other  now.  I  don't 
think  they  get  it  from  Man!   [laughter]  But  it's 
very  nice  to  see  the  old  sentence  coming  out  about 
the  scraper. 

The  general  idea  was  that  a  scraper  was  a  little 
piece  of  partly  shaped  stone,  and  it's  not  a  very 
inspiring  thing  to  Just  look  at  it  that  way,  but  if 
you  think  what  it  stands  for,  "it  means  not  only  a 
scraper,  but  a  thing  to  be  scraped,  most  likely  a 
hide,..."  It  means  leisure  to  do  some  scraping;  and 
it  means  the  confidence  that  you'll  have  enough  future 
to  enjoy  what  you've  worked  at.   It  stands  for  a  whole 
civilization,  a  whole  culture,  you  might  say,  to  figure 
Just  what  the  scraper  means.   I've  seen  it  quoted 
several  times. 

Hiess:    You  said  at  one  point  that  one  of  your  general  themes 
was  "the  great  human  love  for  the  simple,  which  is 
forced  to  yield  in  the  end  tragically  to  the  complex." 

Stewart:  Yes,  that  is  more  or  less  the  theme  of  Man  I  suppose, 
the  fact  that  things  get  more  and  more  complicated 
as  you  go  along.  One  thing  I  did  was  to  tie  the 
archaeology  into  the  history  too.  Very  few  books 
ever  try  to  do  that.  They're  archaeological  or 
historical.   I  tried  to  tie  the  two  things  together, 
showing  how  the  same  threads  went  right  on  through. 

Riess:    But  you  were  saying  that  it  was  important  for  you  to 
make  the  book  simplified.  I  was  trying  to  sort  out 
the  simplified  book  from  the  idea  of  this  being  one 
of  your  themes  in  writing  a  book,  where  the  simple 
things  yield  to  the  complicated.  It  seems  like  they 


Riess:    are  two  different  things  you're  talking  about,  a  theme 
and  a  method. 

Stewart:  Yes.  The  only  time  I  tried  to  adjust  a  book  stylis 
tically  was  The  Years  of  the  City,  whloh  has  the  four 
different  parts.  You  see,  It  has  the  four  generations. 
It  starts  with  the  first  man  as  Just  a  boy,  and  the 
last  man  is  a  very  old  man,  so  you  get  a  spread  of 
about  a  hundred  years  In  there,  and  about  two  hundred 
years  altogether.  You  get  the  four  generations  spread 
out  over  two  hundred  years.  It  goes  along  with  the 
life  of  the  city,  which  Is  founded  on  the  first  day 
of  the  story,  with  this  boy.  He's  a  young  boy.  And 
It  ends  with  the  destruction  of  the  city  two  hundred 
years  later  when  the  very  old  man  dies  at  the  end  of 
the  story. 

Now  I  forget  what  I  was  going  to  illustrate  by 
that.  Oh,  the  way  the  style  adjusted.  I  tried  to 
write  the  first  part  more  or  less  like  a  Juvenile, 
because  it  was  being  written  about  the  boy.  Then  the 
third  section  was  written  in  a  quite  complicated 
style,  because  this  was  a  very  sophisticated  third 
generation  rich  man.  I  even  tried  to  do  a  little 
parody  of  Henry  James  as  part  of  it.  Then  on  the 
last,  it  peters  out  again  to  a  poverty-stricken  old, 
old  man,  with  almost  no  faculties  left.  So  I  tried 
to  get  the  adjustment  of  style  in  that  book.  There's 
not  too  much  though.  You  can't  overplay  that  sort  of 
thing,  because  it  gets  too  mannered  if  you  do,  but 
there  is  a  slight  suggestion  in  places  there.  The 
second  part  is  a  young  man,  so  the  style  is  sort  of 
vigorous  and  clean  cut.  There's  a  difference  all  the 
way  through  It. 

Riess:    Had  the  idea  for  Fire  been  lurking  for  a  while? 

Stewart:  For  a  while,  yes.  After  I  did  Storm,  this  man  from 
the  New  York  Times — whose  name  I  don't  remember  now, 
he  was  a  well-known  book  man — he  came  to  interview  me 
there  in  New  York.  He  did  not  like  the  book  terribly 
well.  Then  he  said  he  thought  it  would  be  easy  to  do 
another  one  like  it.  I  said,  "What  would  you  do  it 
on?"  He  couldn't  think — he  thought  possibly  an  insect 
plague  or  something  of  that  sort,  but  he  couldn't 
come  up  with  anything.  I  know  I  couldn't  either  at 
the  time.  People  still  talk  about  doing  an  earthquake 
or  a  volcanic  eruption.   I  Just  don't  see  how  you  can 
do  it,  because  the  time  element  Is  too  involved,  for 



Stewart:  one  thing.  And  they  don't  have  the  sense  of  life 

that  either  the  storm  or  the  fire  does.  Hundreds  of 
people  said  that  to  me  at  one  time  or  another,  but  I 
said,  HI  don't  see  how  I  could  do  it."  I  never  have 
done  it. 

But  I  read  a  couple  of  books  about  forest  fire. 
In  fact,  I  reviewed  one  for  the  Times  and  that  gave 
me  the  idea  that  you  could  do  it  with  a  forest  fire, 
and  so  I  did  it.   I  guess  that's  it.   I  started  work 
on  that  in  19^5*  The  war  was  still  on.  I  made 
contact  with  the  Forest  Service.  Of  course,  they 
were  very  pleased  to  have  me  doing  a  book  like  that. 
They  gave  me  very  good  cooperation.   I  was  the  depart 
ment  collaborator,  which  had  a  nasty  sound  during  the 
war,  [laughing]  but  that  was  my  official  title.   That 
meant  I  didn't  have  any  salary,  but  I  had  the  privileges 
and  courtesies. 

Then  I  was  going  to — let's  get  this  timing  worked 
out.  I  started  working  in  '44,  not  '45,  only  I  didn't 
get  much  done  in  '44  because  I  Just  sort  of  started 
out  and  then  Parker  Trask  turned  up  and  wanted  me  to 
go  on  this  Navy  Job. 

Riess:    Please  explain  what  that  was. 

Stewart:   It  was  a  pro-submarine  Job.  Most  of  our  submarine 

work  was  anti-submarine,  of  course,  because  that  was 
the  big  problem,  but  we  also  had  a  big  submarine  fleet. 
This  was  a  project  really  for  undersea  mapping.   It's 
pretty  complicated  but  the  question  of  navigating  a 
submarine  and  evading  your  enemies  and  so  forth  is  all 
tied  up  with  the  conditions  of  the  water.  Not  too 
much  was  known  about  it  at  that  time,  because  the 
basic  scientific  work  was  only  partly  done.  So  they 
recruited  me  to  write  the  stuff  up. 

It  was  a  pretty  unsatisfactory  Job,  as  lots  of 
those  war  Jobs  are,  because,  oh — you  know,  they're 
all  full  of  SNAFU  one  way  or  another.   I  got  terribly 
disgusted.  But  eventually  I  got  the  work  done,  as 
far  as  I  was  supposed  to  do  it.  I  had  to  get  in  a 
good  deal  deeper  than  I  thought  at  first.   I  had  one 
or  two  great  moments  of  at  least  personal  triumph, 
that  didn't  ever  get  anywhere,  but  I  like  to  remember 
them.  The  great  ooeanographer  for  our  side  was 
Sverdrup,  a  Norwegian,  about  my  age.  He  was  Director 
of  Scripps  Institution  of  Oceanography.  He  checked 


Stewart:  everything  we  put  out.   I  used  to  take  my  work  out 

to  him  to  have  him  look  it  over.  He  was  always  very 
nioe,  and  would  come  out  and  make  suggestions  where 
I  oould  do  something  better. 

I  had  this  one  idea  all  by  myself,  about  ocean 
ography  and  submarines,  and  I  Just  wrote  it  up.  I 
hadn't  gotten  it  out  of  any  book  or  anything,  I  Just 
figured  it  out  myself.  So  I  wrote  it  up  and  took  it 
out,  the  whole  section,  the  whole  thing,  to  him.  Not 
Just  that  one  paragraph.  He  was  reading  it,  turning 
over  the  leaves.  He  came  to  this  page,  and  I  was 
watching.  He  was  reading  down  through  it,  and  he  did 
a  double-take  on  this,  went  back  and  read  it  through 
very  carefully.  He  said,  "You  know,  I  never  thought 
of  that  myself,  and  it's  right." 

That's  a  nice  thing  to  have  happen,  you  know. 
Just  a  little  thing  like  that.  They  wouldn't  publish 
that  though.  The  commander  who  was  in  charge  of  it 
and  had  the  naval  say  on  it,  wouldn't  publish  it, 
because  it  hadn't  ever  been  demonstrated  by  experience. 
But  it  would  have  worked  all  right. 

I  had  a  few  other  interesting  experiences.  I 
made  one  contribution  to  submarine  tactics  and  one 
contribution  to  submarine  strategy.   I  don't  think 
anybody  has  ever  put  it  into  actual  practice.  The 
question,  you  see,  if  you're  in  an  ocean  current  and 
you  are  located  by  an  enemy  sub-chaser,  should  you 
evade  down- current  or  up- current?  I  figured  out, 
well,  you  ought  to  evade  down-current,  because  there 
are  certain  technical  reasons.   I  talked  this  over 
with  one  submarine  man,  and  he  agreed  with  me.  So, 
if  you  ever  get  that  situation,  remember  to  evade  down- 

I  also  suggested  that  they  launch  a  big  submarine 
attack  when  the  Chinese  rivers  flood,  because  that's 
what  the  Germans  had  done  to  us  off  the  Amazon.   That 
played  hell  with  our  merchant  marine  down  there,  because 
somebody  was  sending  these  ships  through  the  place 
where  the  Amazon  runs  out  to  the  ocean,  and  that  gave 
submarines  a  tremendous  advantage,  to  get  the  fresh 
water  on  top  of  the  salt  water.  Which  again  is  a 
technical  matter,  so  I  made  the  suggestion  that  we 
ought  to  do  this  when  the  Chinese  rivers  overflowed. 
It  would  have  worked,  too,  but  by  that  time  the  war 


Stewart:  was  nearly  over.   I  donft  think  they  ever  put  it  into 
effect,  so  I  don't  think  I  have  the  blood  of  any 
Japanese  on  my  hands  at  all,  so  far  as  I  know. 

Riess:    It  sounds  like  you  really  fell  right  in  with  that 

Stewart:  Well,  there  were  some  very  interesting  things  about 
it.  Parker  Trask  became  a  very  good  friend  of  mine. 
He  died  about  ten  years  ago.  He  was  in  Berkeley 
after  that.   I  used  to  see  him  a  good  deal.  A  very 
nice  guy.  He  went  to  Alaska  with  me  on  the  trip  when 
I  wrote  N.A.  I. 

Riess:    You  went  on  that  Job  in  19*44  and.  you  had  started  on 
Fire,  but  you  stopped. 

Stewart:  I  stopped.  I  did  a  little  bit  of  research  in  San 

Diego.  The  Forest  Service  there  took  me  out  one  day, 
but  it  didn't  amount  to  anything.  Then  I  came  back. 
I  did  some  work  on  reading  in  the  winter.   It  wasn't 
quite  like  Storm.  There  wasn't  the  same  technical 
problem.  A  fire's  a  fire.  It  doesn't  make  so  much 
difference . 

And  then  the  next  summer,  the  war  was  still  on, 
but  I  wasn't  on  that  Job.   I  was  back  in  Berkeley  for 
the  summer.   I  went  out  with  the  Forest  Service  then. 
They  shipped  me  up  to  Portland.  There  was  a  terrific 
fire  outside  Portland.   I  didn't  get  too  much  out  of 
that,  but  you  learn  slowly.  Then  I  was  in  various 
Jobs  in  Northern  California,  around  several  fires.   I 
saw  some  paratroopers  Jump  at  a  fire.  Then  I  wanted 
to  get  some  experience  on  look-out,  so  they  assigned 
Sierra  Buttes  to  me.  Do  you  know  where  that  is? 

Riess:    No,  but  that's  now  your  favorite  vacation  spot,  isn't 

Stewart:  Yes.  Right  below  that. 
Riess:    Did  your  wife  come  with  you? 

Stewart:  No,  my  son  did.  He  was  seventeen  then.  That  was  very 
nice.  There's  a  needle  up  there  at  the  top,  and  you 
sit  right  on  top  of  the  thing.  You  had  to  climb  up  a 
ladder.  We  figured  we  could  throw  our  olive  pits 
about  2000  feet.  We  had  to  come  down  at  night.  That 
was  too  bad.  Now  they  have  a  permanent  look-out  where 



Stewart:  you  can  spend  the  night  and  everything. 

I  learned  a  lot  up  there.   I  didn't  discover  any 
big  fires.  Actually,  they  gave  me  a  look-out  which 
wasn't  a  very  critical  point,  up  there  in  the  high 
mountains.  That  was  all  right.   I  made  my  reports 
and  laid  out  my  distances  and  my  angles  on  smokes  and 
talked  to  the  other  lookouts  occasionally.  So  I 
could  handle  the  girl  lookout  all  right,  doing  the 
story.   I  knew  my  stuff  on  that. 

Something  interesting  happened  there.  They  came 
up  to  get  me  at  the  end  of  the  week,  and  put  a  regular 
lookout  back  on.   I  came  down  and  got  in  the  truck  and 
started  going  down  to  the  town.  We'd  gone  down  the 
road  about  ten  miles,  and  the  driver  said,  "Say,  did 
you  know  we  dropped  an  atomic  bomb  on  the  Japanese?" 
No,  I  hadn't  heard  about  it!   I  think  I  was  about  the 
last  man  in  the  world  to  hear  about  the  atomic  bomb. 

Riess:    That's  a  good  test  of  your  powers  of  ESP,  if  you 

thought  you  had  any.  You  didn't  sense  anything  strange 
had  happened? 

Stewart:  No.   I  was  too  busy  dodging  lightning  and  that  sort 
of  thing. 

That  winter  I  didn't  do  too  much  on  Fire.  The 
next  year  I  went  out  again  in  the  summer,  and  had  some 
more  experience  on  fires.  That's  the  summer  I  got — 
they  lost  me.  I  didn't  get  lost.  And  the  time  the  tree 
almost  fell  on  me.  Did  I  tell  you  about  when  I  almost 
got  killed  in  a  fire? 

That's  a  good  story.   I  think  we  ought  to  get  a 
story  in  occasionally.  I  was  on  this  fire  detail,  a 
terribly  disorganized  fire.  I'd  been  up  most  of  the 
night,  and.  I  was  tired.  I  was  walking  along  a  fire 
trail,  with  the  fire  burning  on  the  right  hand,  over 
here.   (You  see  how  oriented  I  am?)  The  way  I  was 
walking,  the  fire  was  on  the  right  hand  side.  And 
here  was  a  big  old  snag,  about  a  hundred  feet  tall, 
burning,  a  very  dry  old  snag.  It  was  right  about  twenty 
feet  over  in  the  fire.   I  knew  it  was  dangerous.   I 
knew  enough  about  things  to  keep  an  eye  on  it.   I 
walked  along,  I  was  up  almost  even  with  the  tree,  and 
there  was  a  little  trickle  of  water  coming  down  from  a 
spring.   People  had  been  walking  along  here,  and  it  was 


Stewart:  all  muddied  up.   I  went  to  take  a  long  step,  to  get 
across.   It  wasn't  really  a  Jump.  And  I  was  tired. 
As  I  went  to  do  this  step,  my  left  foot,  which  is  my 
Jumping  foot,  slipped  in  the  mud,  and  I  went  right 
down  flat  on  my  face  in  the  mud,  and  right  then  I 
heard  the  tree  go  over.  Bangl   I  heard  it  crack.   I 
couldn't  move,  you  know,  I  couldn't  possibly  get  up 
in  time.   Otherwise  I  could  have  run.  The  tree  hit 
Just  about  fifteen  feet  ahead  of  me. 

That's  the  funny  thing  about  life,  though,  you 
see.  If  I  hadn't  fallen,  I  might  have  been  Just  about 
where  the  tree  hit!  But  then  there  would  have  been 
a  chance  to  get  out  of  the  road,  if  I  could  have  seen 
what  was  happening  fast  enough.  It  really  didn't 
bother  me  in  the  slightest  though.   I  didn't  even 
think  about  it  at  the  time  very  much.  Then  I  realized 
later  that  I  was  close  to  it. 

Biess:    Yes.  That  reminds  me  of  Ben  Lehman  telling  me  about 
Professor  Utter  struck  down  by  the  eucalyptus. 

Stewart:  Yes  I   I  told  him  about  this,  and  he  said,  "You're 

carrying  insurance,  because  there  couldn't  possibly 
be  two  people  in  the  English  department  killed  by 
trees  falling  on  them. " 

Riess:    His  story  involved  Utter  stopping  and  getting  a  light 
for  his  cigarette,  or  something,  which  was  the  fatal 

Stewart:   I  don't  know  about  that.   It  might  be  true.   I  was  at 
that  dinner  with  Utter.  It  was  a  windy  night,  a 
dinner  at  the  Faculty  Club.  I  went  out  the  front  door 
and  he  went  put  the  back  door.  Again,  that's  a  thing 
I've  thought  of  often,  Just  the  way  how  your  fate  is 
determined.  You  go  out  one  door  and  the  other  guy 
goes  out  the  other  door.  That's  it. 

I  didn't  know  about  it  of  course  until  the  next 
day.   I  didn't  know  the  tree  went  over.   I  don't  know 
about  stopping  to  light  a  cigarette  either.   I  never 
heard  that" before.  The  thing  I  liked  about  the  Utter 
story  is  that  he  put  his  arm  up  to  protect  his 
head,  when  he  heard  the  tree  go.  And  he  was  a  good 
outdoors  man.  He  would  have  reacted  quickly. 

Riess:    How  fast  does  a  tree  go  over? 



Stewart:   It  doesn't  go  as  fast  as  all  that,  but  of  course  a 
eucalyptus  tree  has  branches  on  It,  and  he  may  not 
have  got  hit  by  the  main  trunk.  Besides,  he  was  In 
the  dark.  He  couldn't  have  told  what  was  happening. 
That  would  have  been  my  trouble  too,  If  I  had  been 
there  on  my  feet.  You  wouldn't  know  which  way  to 
Jump.  You  might  run  right  Into  the  thing.  Funny,  I 
can  still  remember  that  was  a  windy  night.   Poor  Mrs. 
Utter  had  cancer  at  the  time.  She  said,  "Why  can't 
there  be  trees  for  both  of  us?'1 

Well,  by  the  end  of  that  summer  I  knew  pretty 
much  what  I  wanted  to  do  with  the  story.   It  wasn't 
too  hard  to  write. 

I  sent  It  over  to  the  Forest  Service  to  check 
the  technical  details,  and  I  was  very  happy  that  they 
only  found  two  minute  points  which  they  thought  I 
ought  to  change.   One  of  them  was  the  business  about 
the  two  men  working  at  the  saw.  They  said  that  tree 
was  too  small,  and  wasn't  a  test  for  anybody.  You 
had  to  have  a  bigger  tree.  The  other  one — oh,  the  top 
of  a  sugar  pine  wasn't  quite  the  way  I  said  it  was. 
I  changed  that.  I  thought  that  was  very  nice  that  I 
got  into  it  far  enough  so  I  could  really  write  to 
please  the  technical  people. 

The  story's  in  the  Ponderosa  Forest,  you  know. 
I  invented  the  Ponderosa  Forest.   I  shoved  the  Plumas 
Forest  and  Tahoe  Forest  apart  and  put  the  Ponderosa 
in  between.  The  wife  of  one  of  the  rangers  up  there 
in  the  Plumas  Forest  came  to  see  me  one  day,  and  she 
said  that  people  are  always  driving  in  there  and 
saying,  "What  became  of  the  Ponderosa  Forest?"  [laughter] 
"We  were  driving  up  and  it  said  'Tahoe  Forest'  and  all 
of  a  sudden  it  changed  to  'Plumas  Forest.'  We  thought 
the  Ponderosa  Forest  was  in  between." 

I  want  to  show  you  something  over  here.   I  think 
I  know  where  it  is.  It's  my  relief  map.  That's  one 
of  the  few  things  I  haven't  given  to  the  Bancroft 

[Can't  find  it.]  Maybe  I  can  show  it  to  you  when 
you  come  over  again.   It's  Just  a  small  relief  map  of 
the  area.  My  son  is  very  good  at  that  sort  of  thing. 
It's  based  on  the  topographical  map  that  I  drew  with 
all  the  lines.   It's  the  same  thing  as  a  topographical 



Stewart:  map  put  into  actual  relief.   I  probably  should  give 

it  to  The  Bancroft.  The  interesting  thing  about  this 
is  that  David  Park  did  the  coloring  for  me.  So  it's 
a  David  Park  original. 

Riess:    What  is  it  made  out  of? 

Stewart:  Just  plaster.  It's  painted.  It's  more  or  less  the 

color  which  you  would  get,  you  see,  with  the  different 
kind  of  trees  and  so  forth. 

Riess:    In  Fire  you  were  using  the  name  Judith  Godoy  a  second 
time,  weren't  you? 

Stewart:  Yes. 
Riess:    Why? 

Stewart:  Oh,  I  don't  know.  Lots  of  authors  have  used  the  same 

character  name.  She  was  supposed  to  be  the  descendant, 
the  great-great-granddaughter  or  something,  of  Judith 
in  East  of  the  Giants. 

Riess:    Did  you  ever  say  anything  about  her  grand-parentage? 

Stewart:  Yes,  Just  in  kind  of  a  slanting  way.  She  told  him, 
[Dave]  after  he  carried  her  off  from  the  tower,  she 
told  him  that  this  had  happened  to  her  ancestress  who 
had  been  carried  away  on  a  horse. 

Actually,  some  of  those  people  in  Fire,  the 
professor  she  worked  with  at  the  university,  for 
Instance,  were  friends  of  mine.  I've  done  that 
several  times.   It's  a  dangerous  thing.  Sometimes 
people  don't  like  it. 

For  instance,  the  Hart's  rugs  get  spoiled  in 
Earth  Abides.  Nobody  is  there  to  take  care  of  the 
overflow  of  water.  Now,  they're  always  talking  about 
their  rugs!   Oh,  these  have  been  very  small  things 
actually.   I  did  more  in  Fire  than  in  any  other  book. 
There's  a  character  out  of  Storm  in  Fire,  too,  Johnny 
Hartley.  And  then  I  used  myself  in  Fire  too,  the  one 
who  was  collecting  information  on  it.   I  just  told 
all  of  the  different  kind  of  people  who  got  sucked 
into  the  fire  business  and  there  was  this  man  who  was 
collecting  material  on  the  fire. 

-  .  • 


Rless:    The  connective  things  seem  to  remind  the  reader  that 
the  author  is  there  and  really  in  charge  of  the  whole 
story.   I  wonder  how  you  respond  to  that  idea. 

Stewart:  Well,  I  don't  think  that  in  my  books,  at  least,  the 
author  is  there  or  not.  The  only  time  that  I  really 
stepped  out  from  behind  the  mask  was  in  Sheep  Rook, 
and  that  was  Just  at  the  very  end. 

I've  gone  through  several  stages  in  that  sort 
of  thing.  In  my  early  novels  I  kept  very  strictly 
out  of  the  picture,  completely  out.   In  East  of  the 
Giants  for  instance.  Then  as  I  went  along,  I  moved 
rather  in  the  other  direction.  In  Storm  and  Fire 
the  author  is  pretty  strictly  out  of  it  I  should  say. 
Then  as  I  worked  along,  I  gradually  came  to  feel  more 
and  more,  this  is  a  sort  of  convention.  After  all, 
the  reader  knew  you  were  there  all  the  time,  and  you 
weren't  really  fooling  anybody.  So  I  sometimes  made 
use  of  it  in  the  other  direction. 

Riess:    I  mean  the  sense  of  the  work  being  under  somebody's 
control,  that  there's  nothing  that's  accidental,  in 
the  sense  that  life  flows  along  in  an  accidental 

Stewart:  Well,  don't  a  lot  of  writers  like  to  give  the  other 
impression,  that  this  is  outside  their  control,  that 
they  are  not  in  control  of  the  book,  don't  you  think? 

Riess:    I  felt  that  you  Just  decided  to  tell  a  little  bit 

about  what  you  knew,  which  was  probably  everything. 

Stewart:  Yes.  Well,  in  a  sense  that's  true.  In  a  sense  I  knew 
a  great  deal  more  about  the  situation  than  I  wrote 
down.   I  had  all  these  images  of  what  the  place  was 
like,  and  all  that,  and  could  have  gone  into  any  amount 
of  detail.   Partly,  those  were  memories,  of  course,  of 
places  I've  been,  in  fires,  and  so  forth. 



Stewart:  Do  you  want  to  bring  this  up  short  and  put  in  some 
direction  now? 

Riess:    Well,  we  can  go  on  with  the  sort  of  chronological 
thing  with  your  books,  or  we  could  break  from  that 
and  I  could  ask  you  ten  out  of  maybe  a  hundred  idle 
questions  that  I  have. 

Stewart:  All  right,  it  would  give  us  a  little  change. 

Riess:    [laughing]   Idle  questions  department.  Tell  me  about 
Hollywood  in  19^7-  What  was  that  experience  like,  and 
what  did  you  do  there? 

Stewart:   I  guess  that  was  the  time  I  went  down  to  Disney's. 

I'd  been  down  to  Hollywood  a  couple  of  times.   I  think 
that  was  the  only  extended  time  I  went  down  there — I 
stayed  a  week  that  time.  I  never  knew  what  they  wanted 
out  of  me,  and  I  don't  think  they  did  either.   It  was 
a  typical  Hollywood  experience.   I  sat  in  a  nice  office 
there  and  read  a  book  most  of  the  time,  and  once  in  a 
while  somebody  would  talk  to  me.   I  never  did  find  out 
what  they  wanted.  It  was  Just  the  same  old  line,  you 
know.  They  could  pick  somebody's  brain  and  that  sort 
of  thing,  and  I  think  they  were  probably  pleased  enough 
with  what  they  got  from  me.  They  didn't  pay  me  too 
much  money  anyway. 

Riess:    Were  you  working  on  a  script  for  Storm? 

Stewart:  No.  No.   I  don't  know  what  it  had  to  do  with,  whether 
I  didn't  show  them  what  they  wanted,  or  what  they  were 
looking  for,  and  they  Just  sent  me  back  home  again.   It 
was  pleasant  enough. 

Riess:    You  weren't  there  long  enough  to  accumulate  all  the 
bad  feelings  about  Hollywood  that  some  writers  have? 

Stewart:  No.  I  can  see  how  you  would  very  rapidly,  though.   I 
had  great  respect  for  Walt  Disney.  I  remember  having 
lunch  with  him,  the  two  of  us,  one  day.   I  can't 
remember  whether  it  was  that  trip,  or  another  time  I 
was  down  there.  But  I  never  had  any  special  contacts 
with  Hollywood.  It's  never  meant  anything  to  me 

Riess:    Did  you  do  much  Sunday  book  reviewing,  or  reviewing 
in  general? 


Stewart:  I've  never  done  a  great  deal  of  reviewing.  The  New 
York  Times  had  me  on  their  list  for  a  while,  and  I 
did  a  certain  number  of  books,  nonfiction.   I  told 
them  I  wasn't  very  much  interested  in  reviewing  novels, 
I  never  did  any  very  big  reviews.  That  only  went  on 
for  five  years  or  so,  then  like  so  many  things,  you 
know,  personality  changes,  or  something  like  that, 
they  forget  about  that  reviewer  and  they  go  on  to 
another  reviewer.  I  just  sort  of  eased  out  of  it. 
It  never  meant  anything  very  much  to  me.  It  was  a 
nice  connection  to  have. 

Then  I  reviewed  for  the  Chronicle  occasionally. 
Joe  Jackson  would  give  me  some  kind  of  special  book. 
He,  of  course,  was  a  very  close  friend  of  mine,  and  I 
think  he  handled  me  very  smartly  on  that  sort  of  thing, 
He  didn't  Just  give  me  routine  reviews.  It  would  be 
some  unusual  type  of  thing,  to  do,  Just  occasionally. 
It  worked  out  very  well. 

Riess:    That's  a  funny  thing  to  say,  that  somebody  handled 
you  "smartly." 

Stewart:  Well,  I  am  difficult  to  handle.  No,  I  think  that's 

essentially  modesty  on  my  part,  isn't  it,  to  say  that 
he  handled  me  well?  I  wasn't  such  a  good  prospect 
that  he  couldn't  help  handling  me  well. 

One  book  I  did  was  the  first  biography  of  Scott 
Fitzgerald.  He  knew  I  knew  Fitzgerald,  or  had  known 
him.  I  did  a  good  review  on  that,  too.  Then  he  gave 
me  the  Century  Dictionary  of  Names,  a  great  big  three- 
volume  work  which  I  still  have,  sitting  right  here. 
It's  one  of  the  few  books  I  brought  along  in  the  move 
over  here. 

I  did  other  miscellaneous  reviews  here  and  there, 
but  I  was  never  really  a  regular  reviewer. 

Bless:    I  have  in  capital  letters  to  ask  you  about  a  quote 
that  I  think  you  used  in  the  English  department 
history,  "No  man  is  as  simple  as  his  legend."  Would 
you  apply  that  to  yourself? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  can't  say  I  know  what  my  legend  is,  or  whether 
I  have  one,  or  how  much  of  one  I  have.  So  I  don't 
see  what  I  can  say  about  that. 






Stewart : 

You  said  once  that  you  felt  that  people  expected 
certain  things  of  you. 

Well,  they  may,  but  I  don't  know  exactly  what  they 
expect  from  me.   I  can  imagine  things  that  I  might 
like  to  have  them  expect  of  me,  but  I  don't  know  that 
that  would  be  of  much  pertinency.  I  think  every  man 
likes  to  think  of  himself  as  a  strange  and  wonderful 

In  1922  you  went  to  Michigan  to  teach, 
year  in  Michigan  like? 

What  was  your 

I  got  a  lot  of  experience  there.  That  was  my  first 
real  full  teaching  year.  So  I  learned  a  lot, 
accomplished  quite  a  lot  that  year.  Nothing  like  so 
much,  though, as  that  master's  year  at  Berkeley  where 
so  much  was  opened  up.  Of  course,  being  my  first 
teaching  year  my  nose  was  pretty  well  to  the  grindstone, 
I  wasn't  doing  much  experimentation.   I  was  getting 

Would  you  tell  how  you  met  your  wife? 

Well,  I  remember  where  I  met  her.  The  president's  wife 
gave  a  tea,  and — I  think  it  was  pretty  good  that  I 
went  to  it.   I  don't  remember  exactly  how  or  why  I 
did.   I  went  with  another  instructor. 

The  wife  of  one  of  the  English  professors  whom  I 
had  met,  and  who  was  being  nice  to  me,  said,  "I'd  like 
you  to  meet — "  (I  don't  know  what  she  said,  "Miss 
Burton,"  or  whatever  she  said.)  So  I  looked  across 
the  room  and  there  she  was,  and  I  went  over  and  was 
introduced.  I  can't  say  that  I  fell  in  love  at  that 
moment,  or  she  with  me,  but  that  was  the  time  we  met. 
I  think  she  had  a  pink  dress  on.  She  might  have  had. 

She  remembers  about  it  too.*  She  thought  I  was 
awful  stiff.   I  think  this  lady  introduced  me  as 
"Dr.  Stewart,"  because  I  wasn't  a  professor.  Ted  has 
never  been  able  to  stand  that  title  for  some  reason. 
To  this  day,  she  hates  anybody  introducing  me  as  "Dr." 

*The  lady  had  said  to  her,  "There's  a  new  instructor 
in  the  English  Department.  I  want  you  to  be  nice  to 
him."  (She  has  been,  for  a  good  many  years.)  [G.S.] 


Stewart:   I  don't  prefer  it,  but  I  don't  get  irritated  about  it. 
Riess:    So,  you  married  the  president's  daughter? 

Stewart:  The  boss's  daughter.  She  was  home  for  a  year  then. 

She  hadn't  been  very  well.  She  had  gone  to  Vassar  for 
a  year.  She  was  everywhere,  started  out  at  the 
University  of  Minnesota,  and  when  her  father  came  to 
Michigan  she  came  down  then,  and  went  to  Vassar  for 
a  year.  Then  she  didn't  go  back  to  Vassar.  She 
spent  this  year — I  don't  think  she  went  to  college  at 
all,  she  was  helping  her  mother  around  the  place, 
running  the  social  events. 

That  was  a  year  in  between  for  her,  and  that's 
when  she  got  engaged.  We  were  engaged  for  a  year.  She 
went  on  and  finished  up  her  work  at  the  University  of 
Michigan.  I  don't  think  we  have  anything  very 
startling  to  recount  about  that. 

Riess:    Did  you  go  back  to  marry  her? 

Stewart:  Yes,  and  we  had  a  big  do  with  the  wedding.   It  was 
really  a  Roman  holiday.  We  were  married  in  the 
Clemens  Library.  It's  like  the  Bancroft  Library. 
It  was  a  nice  new  building,  the  way  The  Bancroft  may 
be  a  year  or  so  from  now.   It  happened  to  be  Just 
next  to  the  president's  house,  so  they  had  a  canopy 
across.  They  invited  practically  everybody.  Among 
the  celebrities  came  Henry  Pord,  out  from  Detroit. 
And  we  had  the  ceremony  in  the  library.  That  was 
very  fitting  after  all,  for  me.   [laughing]  Then  we 
went  back  to  the  house  and  had  a  reception  in  the  big 
president's  house. 

And  as  I  say,  Henry  Pord  was  the  chief  notable, 
even  more  so  than  the  groom,   [laughter]  He  had  his 
social  secretary  send  us  a  set  of  Conrad  as  a  wedding 
present,  very  beautifully  bound,  which  was  signed  by 
Conrad  in  the  first  volume.  And  so  we  had  one  of  the 
bridesmaids  staked  out  to  get  Henry  Pord  to  sign  it 
too,  and  he  did.   It  looked  like  the  signature  on  the 
old  Model  T,  exactly.  We  had  that  in  our  house  there 
in  Berkeley.  We  collected  two  or  three  more  signatures 
on  it.   Carl  Sandburg  signed  it  once.  We  sold  that, 
when  we  broke  the  library  up.  David  McGee,  the 
bookseller,  bought  it,  and  I  don't  know  what  he  did 
with  it. 

Stewart : 


Stewart : 


Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 

As  I  say,  we  had  a  great  big  wedding,  and  a  lot 
of  wedding  presents,  some  of  which  we  still  have,  as 
a  matter  of  fact. 

Where  did  you  go  on  your  honeymoon? 

Well,  we  came  to  California.  We  had  a  wild  trip  in 
an  old  Studebaker  car.  There  were  some  terrible 
roads.  We  came  out  to  Glacier  Park.  From  there  we 
swung  north  into  Canada  to  get  across  the  mountains, 
and  then  ended  up  with  some  terrible  roads  in  Oregon, 
and  a  trip  down  the  then  fairly  rudimentary  Redwood 
Highway.  There  we  broke  a  differential,  and  had  to 
spend  three  days  camped  out  near  a  primitive  roadside 
garage  while  they  sent  in  to  Eureka  or  some  place  for 
a  new  part.  We  finally  made  it  through  to  Berkeley, 
and  to  Pasadena,  where  my  parents  lived  then. 

Were  your  parents  living  then? 

Yes.  They  came  back  for  the  wedding.  My  father  was 
about  seventy-five  then.  He  lived  till  he  was  ninety, 

Well,  it  sounds  like  quite  a  do I 

Oh,  it  was,  they  made  700  chicken  salads  or  something 
like  that.   It  could  have  set  us  up  in  housekeeping 
very  nicely  with  what  that  wedding  cost,  couldn't  it? 

Especially  if  you  had  saved  all  the  chicken  salad. 

Yes,  we  would  have  eaten  that  for  about  a  year! 

Do  you,  or  did  you,  belong  to  social  or  professional 
clubs  much? 

I  was  never  a  very  great  Joiner  of  things, 
to  more  things  right  now  than  I  ever  have, 

What  about  the  American  Names  Society? 

I  belong 

There  I  think  I'm  down  as  one  of  the  charter  members, 
I  didn't  have  much  to  do  with  actually  organizing  it. 
I  didn't  think  it  was  a  very  good  time  for  it,  as  a 
matter  of  fact.   That  was  Just  about  the  time  of  the 
Korean  War,  and  I  think  it  had  a  hard  time  getting 
going.  It  did  get  organized.   I  proved  to  have  not 
enough  faith  in  the  thing. 


Stewart:       I  was  one  of  the  early  presidents  of  it,  and  I 
did  a  good  Job  I  think  on  that,  because  I  rescued  it 
from  bankruptcy.   I  tried  my  hand  at  working  up  a 
little  bit  of  money,  and  I  got  it  all  right.   I 
figured  that  I  hated  to  take  over  an  organization  that 
fell  down  on  its  obligations.  You  see,  we  were  taking 
the  money,  the  subscriptions  for  the  year.   I  figured 
it  wouldn't  amount  to  an  awful  lot  of  money,  a  few 
hundred  dollars,  and  if  necessary  I  could  get  stuck 
with  that,  it  wouldn't  ruin  me.   So  I  enjoyed  working 
it  up.   I  got  a  lot  of  people  to  Join  as  associate 
members,  and  give  $25.   I  got  a  lot  more  subscriptions 
one  place  and  another  by  a  little  publicity.   I  got  it 
back  on  its  feet.   I  was  very  happy  about  that.   It's 
still  going. 

Riess:    Do  people  who  have  Just  a  hobby  or  curiosity  about 
names  Join? 

Stewart:  There  are  a  good  many  of  those  I  think,  yes.  I  keep 
getting  letters  from  people  about  names,  on  account 
of  my  books,  and  when  I  reply  I  always  send  an 
invitation  to  Join  the  society.   I  get  a  certain 
amount  of  them  but  I  don't  know  for  how  long — maybe 
they  Just  Join  for  one  year.   I  never  follow  up  or 
find  out.  After  all,  that's  the  way  an  organization 
lives,  by  getting  new  people  in. 

Riess:    Did  you  belong  to  University  groups  such  as  the  Arts 
Club  and  the  English  Club? 

Stewart:   I  never  belonged  to  the  Arts  Club.   I  never  really 
belonged  to  the  English  Club.   I  was  taken  into  it 
Just  about  the  time  it  folded  up,  so  I  can't  say 
that  I  ever  did  anything  with  that.  It  had  quite  a 
long,  good  career,  and  then,  like  all  those  student 
organizations,  something  happened  to  it.   It  got  out 
of  step  with  the  times  or  something  and  it  Just  folded 
up.  That  didn't  mean  anything  to  me. 

Riess:    How  about  the  Bohemian  Club?  Are  you  a  Bohemian? 

Stewart:   No,  I'm  not,  but  they've  got  me  up  for  membership 

now.   I  think  I'll  Join  it  if  I  get  a  chance,  because 
living  over  here  now  it's  right  down  the  street  here 
and  I  know  a  lot  of  people  in  it.*  I  was  approached 

*Joined,  December,  1971,  G.S. 

Stewart:  before,  years  ago,  but  I  didn't  take  it  up,  because 
when  we  lived  In  Berkeley  there  wasn't  any  point 
In  belonging  to  It. 

Actually,  I  haven't  belonged  to  anything  very 
much.  The  Faculty  Club  was,  again,  a  professional 
business.   [Like  the  Modern  Language  Association.] 
One  day  I  was  eating  there  and  Bob  Erode  stuck  his 
head  in  the  door,  to  see  who  was  In  that  room.  He 
came  around  and  said,  "Could  I  nominate  you  for  the 
board  of  the  Faculty  Club?"  I  said,  "Well,  what's 
it  mean?"  And  so  forth.   I  said,  "All  right.  I 
won't  be  elected,  anyway."  So  I  was  elected.   I  got 
Interested  in  that. 

I  did  a  good  Job  on  that,  I  think.  I  was  on  the 
board  for  three  years,  vice-president  or  something. 
Then  they  elected  me  president  and  I  was  president  for 
three  years.   I  really  devoted  myself  to  trying  to 
build  up  a  little  morale  and  spirit  in  the  Faculty 
Club,  which  was  very  much  run  down  at  that  time.   I 
think  people  appreciated  what  I  did,  because  there 
are  still  people  who  call  me  Mr.  President,   [laughing] 
That's  very  nice.   I  appreciated  that.  That  was  a  nice 
time,  being  president.   I  worked  pretty  hard  at  it. 
Actually,  that  was  all  when  I  was  emeritus,  when  I  was 

Riess:    It  seemed  to  be  about  1963  to  1967. 

Stewart:   Yes,  that,  I  guess,  was  it. 

Riess:    Do  you  think  it's  growing  as  an  influence? 

Stewart:  I  think  it's  come  over  it's  hardest  years.  It  seems 

to  be  doing  better  now.   I  think  it's  going  all  right. 

Riess:    Did  it  have  an  old  Golden  Age? 
Stewart:   Yes,  it  did. 
Riess:    When  was  that? 

Stewart:  Oh,  I  think  around — it  began  in  1902  I  think,  in  a 

small  way,  and  it  came  along.   I  think  it  was  a  great 
institution  for  the  faculty.  Then  about  1930  It  kind 
of  began  to  go  downhill,  I  think.   I  don't  know. 
Anyway,  along  after  the  fifties  it  was  in  not  such 
good  shape.  The  great  question  now  is  whether  you  can 


Stewart:  get  the  younger  men  to  Join  it.  The  younger  men 

simply  don't  go  into  it.  It's  become  an  old  men's 
olub,  which  is  very  bad.  I  worked  on  that  quite  a 
bit,  but  didn't  get  very  far,  trying  to  get  some 
interest  among  the  younger  men.  Now  they  are 
amalgamating  with  the  Women's  Faculty  Club  and  they 
are  still  working  on  their  problem  with  the  younger 
men.  One  problem  of  course  is  the  fact  that  the 
faculty  of  the  campus  has  become  so  big,  it's  hard 
to  focus  on  any  one  part,  one  point. 

fiiess:    You  mean  there  are  departmental  clubs  that  people  are 
going  to? 

Stewart:   I  don't  think  clubs  exactly.  A  lot  of  them  eat  out 
of  bags,  which  of  course  is  cheaper,  and  they  can 
get  together  as  a  group  in  an  office.  And  you  have 
the  Golden  Bear  restaurant  at  North  Gate.  That  seems 
to  be  something  of  a  problem. 

In  what  you  wanted  to  call  the  "Golden  Days" 
there,  after  lunch  there  would  be  a  big  gathering  of 
people  in  that  room  which  is  now  the  Howard  Room. 
They'd  be  playing  cards  and  cursing  and  reading 
magazines  and  playing  chess,  and  the  next  room  was 
full  of  billiard  players.  There  was  a  real  gathering 
of  spirits  there,  after  lunch. 

When  they  remodeled  the  club,  they  got  that  room 
all  shifted  around,  and  the  only  lounge  is  upstairs. 
The  thing  Just  went  absolutely  dead.  It  was  a  curious 
kind  of  failure  in  the  people  who  remodeled,  the  club. 
They  didn't  realize  they  were  killing  the  spirit  of 
the  place  at  the  same  time  they  were  remodeling  it. 
Now,  they  are  going  to  remodel  it  again,  and  I  think 
they  have  that  in  mind.  They're  going  to  try  to  get 
a  gathering  place. 

Hi ess:    Speaking  of  the  faculty  doing  things  together,  do  you 
think  crises  help  bring  the  University  together? 

Stewart:  Well,  yes  and  no.  You  take  a  thing  like  the  oath 

controversy.  It  brought  certain  people  together  and 
other  people  apart.  There  were  a  lot  of  enmities 
developed.   In  my  own  person  I  know  that.   I  think  on 
the  whole  I  came  out  of  the  oath  controversy  in  a 
better  way  than  most  people  did.   I  didn't  suffer  any 
great  tragedy  out  of  it.  The  oath  really  broke  a 


Stewart:   certain  number  of  people,  put  them  under  terrific 
strain.  They  never  reconstituted  themselves,  I 
think.  I  could  name  names,  but  I  don't  need  to. 

On  the  other  hand,  I  came  out  of  it  in  pretty 
good  shape.  Doing  the  Year  of  the  Oath  was  a  very 
fine  thing.  I  worked  with  about  seventy  people  on 
that.  That  gives  me  ties  around  the  campus  you 
wouldn't  ever  imagine.  I  was  the  man  they  were 
following  there  at  that  one  point.  You  don't  forget 
it.  I  don't. 

Riess:    So  people  may  draw  together  around  an  issue,  or  come 
to  life  around  an  issue. 

Stewart:  That  was  one  thing  I  had  in  mind  when  I  undertook  to 
write  that  book.   It  was  a  therapeutic  thing.   It 
gave  people  something  to  work  at.  Whether  it  was  a 
good  thing  or  not  was  really  not  so  much  the  problem. 
They  gave  themselves  up  to  this,  and  I  think  it  was 
very  good  for  the  people  who  got  involved  in  that. 

It  was  a  very  interesting  thing.   I  worked 
terribly  hard  on  that,  Just  terribly  hard,  because  I 
did  the  whole  thing  in  sixty  days,  and  kept  my  teaching 
going  at  the  same  time.   I  had  a  whole  organization — 
chief  of  staff,  and  a  sort  of  inner  council  of  five 
people  who  met  to  plan  the  higher  strategy  of  it.   I 
had  little  groups  scattered  around  campus  working  on 
this  or  that.  Sometimes  they  didn't  do  anything  that 
amounted  to  anything,  but  at  least  they  were  working 
at  something. 

Bless:    That's  interesting.  I  hadn't  realized  it  was  happening 
so  simultaneously.  When  did  it  start,  exactly,  in 
terms  of  your  sixty  days? 

Stewart:  Well,  it  started  about  the  middle  of  April  that  year.  /?_r 
I  probably  have  the  date  down  somewhere  (April  4,  1^66-). 
I  handed  the  manuscript  in  in  sixty  days  and  then  made 
arrangements  for  publication.   I  had  some  luck  on  that. 

Riess:    Did  you  have  to  get  it  cleared  with  anybody? 
Stewart:  No.   Only  my  own  group. 

Then  there  was  a  question  of  who  was  going  to 
sign  it.   I  didn't  want  to  sign  it  by  myself.   I 
thought  it  would  be  better  if  somebody  else  signed  it 



Stewart:  with  me,  but  I  couldn't  find  anybody  who  would  sign 
It  with  me.   I  had  written  nearly  all  of  It,  so  In  a 
way  I  didn't  blame  them,  signing  something  they 
hadn't  written.  But  after  all,  It  was  a  kind  of 
Joint  effort.  I  couldn't  get  anybody  to  sign  It,  so 
I  Just  went  and  signed  It  myself. 

It's  an  Interesting  story  about  the  publication 
of  that  In  a  way.   It's  a  long,  continued  story. 
Howard  Cady  was  out  here  then.   I  knew  him  slightly. 
He  was  the  West  Coast  representative  for  Doubleday. 
Random  House  wouldn't  take  it.  That  was  one  of  the 
things  I  got  sore  at  Random  House  about.  So  I  got 
in  touch  with  Howard  Cady.  As  I  say,  I  knew  him  Just 

Riess:    It  was  too  hot  a  thing  for  them? 

Stewart:   Oh,  they  couldn't  make  any  money  out  of  it.  They 

thought  they  couldn't.  Then  Howard  said  he  thought 
Doubleday  would  do  it.  He'd  recommend  it.  He  fixed 
it  up.  So  Dcubleday  published  it.  It  was  an 
unsatisfactory  book  in  many  ways,  because  it  had  to 
be  done  right  in  the  middle  of  things.  We  couldn't 
really  write  an  ending  to  it.  The  controversy  was 
still  going  on. 

Then  years  later  I  was  able  to  repay  that  to 
Howard  Cady,  because  I  saved  his  neck  on  one  occasion. 
That  was  interesting:  One  day  I  got  a  letter  from 
the  International  Nickel  Company,  from  a  local  general 
manager  or  something  on  the  West  Coast,  and  he  said, 
"Would  you  be  willing  to  have  a  talk  with  Mr.  So-and-So, 
our  vice-president?"  Well,  it  was  nothing  to  me.   I 
said,  "Sure.   I  don't  mind  having  a  talk  with  the 
vice-president  of  International  Nickel.  I  don't  know 
what  I  can  do  for  him,  but...."  [laughter] 

So  pretty  soon  they  fixed  it  up,  and  the  vice- 
president  came  to  see  me  in  my  office  down  in  Dwinelle. 
Turned  out  they  wanted  a  book  written  about  the  company. 
'They  didn't  offer  it  to  me  to  write  it,  but  they  wanted 
some  advice  on  this.  Would  I  see  the  president?  "Yes. 
I  don't  mind  seeing  the  president."  This  was  the  vice- 
president,  who  came  all  the  way  to  ask  me  if  I  would 
see  the  president.  I  said,  "I  don't  mind  seeing  the 
president."  He  said,  "We'll  pay  your  expenses  back 
to  New  York." 

Stewart:       I  said,  "Well,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  I'm  going 

to  be  in  New  York  in  about  a  month.   I  don't  need  any 
expenses."  They  said,  "Well,  what  fee  would  you 
charge?"  I  said,  "Oh,  I  don't  know."  He  said,  "How 
about  two  hundred  dollars?"  I  said,  "Oh  sure,  that's 
enough. " 

I  thought  I'd  get  lunch  out  of  it  too,  he  would 
take  me  to  lunch.   So  we  went  to  New  York,  and  I 
saw  the  president.  It  was  a  hot  day  down  there  and 
he  took  me  to  lunch,  and  I  got  two  hundred  dollars. 
I  recommended  Howard  Cady  as  the  man  they  should  see. 
(I  guess  it  happened  at  that  time  that  Howard  got 
fired.  He  really  got  a  very  tough  deal. )  Howard 
got  himself  in  a  good  break  with  International  Nickel. 
They  took  him  on  for  a  temporary  Job  to  rewrite  all 
the  manuals,  and  Howard  said  it  saved  his  neck.  He 
had  four  children  and  he  was  in  a  bad  way,  temporarily. 
So  it  was  a  very  nice  thing  to  happen  ten  years  later. 
You  never  can  tell  when  you're  going  to  get  a  chance 
to  repay  a  debt. 

I  kept  in  touch  with  that  vice-president  of 
International  Nickel  for  a  long  time,   [laughter]  In 
fact,  he  used  to  come  out  here  and  take  my  wife  and 
me  to  dinner.  I  haven't  seen  him  in  a  long  time.  I 
don't  know  what's  happened  to  him. 

They  would  have  given  me  that  book  to  write  if 
I'd  made  any  gesture  about  it  at  all.  Howard  said 
they  wanted  me  to  do  it,  but  I  didn't  want  to  do  it. 
I  could  have  made  $50,000.   They  paid  the  man  $50,000 
who  wrote  it.  There's  money  in  those  corporation 
books.  Because  in  a  corporation's  budget  that's 
nothing,  you  see. 

Riess:    You  probably  would  have  gotten  interested  in  it,  too. 
Stewart:   I  probably  would,  yes. 


INTERVIEW  VII,  Earth  Abides,  Year  of  the  Oath, 
Sheep  Rock,  U.S.  *K),  American  Ways  of  Life,  Years 
of  the  City,  Pickett's  Charge,  California  Trail, 
Good  Lives ;  premonitions,  clubs,  aging. (Recorded 
October  26,  1971) 

Riess:    What  was  the  genesis  for  Earth  Abides? 

Stewart:   I  don't  know  exactly  what  gave  me  the  original  idea, 
but  I'd  had  it  for  a  long  time  before  I  wrote  it. 
After  I  finished  Fire  I  very  soon  started  in  to  work 
on  that. 

I  don't  know  whether  I  told  you  about  going 
around  to  interview  various  people  around  the 
University.  That  was  one  way  I  got  my  Information 
about  what  would  happen.   I  would  go  to  see  a  man 
who  knew  about  sheep,  and  ask  what  would  happen  to 
PG&E  and  all  those  things.  It  was  very  interesting. 
Most  of  these  people  were  very  skilled  people,  but 
they  were  generally  not  very  imaginative  people.  They 
knew  what  they  knew,  and  when  you  asked  them  to 
project  this  into  the  future,  it  was  very  startling 
to  them.  They  had  never  thought  of  things  like  that, 
you  know,  "What  would  happen  if  there  weren't  any 
men  around?" 

They  usually  were  interested  in  it,  and  they'd 
come  right  back.   I  got  used  to  the  formula.   I'd 
ask  them,  "What  would  happen  in  that  case?  Without 
any  men?"  They'd  say,  "Oh,  yes,  we'll  tell  you  about 
that."  Then  they'd  start  out  and  say,  "This  would 
happen."  Then  they'd  go  on  talking  for  about  two 
minutes,  and  then  they'd  say,  "Well,  maybe  not. 
Because  there  would  be  a  secondary  effect  there.  Maybe 
something  else  would  happen."  And  they'd  get  on  to 
thinking,  and  in  a  minute  something  else  would  come 
up,  and  in  another  five  minutes  they'd  say,  "Well,  we 
really  don't  know  what  would  happen." 


Stewart:       That  was  rather  nice  for  me,  because  It  gave  me 
a  free  hand,  in  some  respects.  Sometimes  I  differed 
with  them,  actually.  This  man  on  sheep  thought  that 
sheep  would  survive  In  spite  of  being  such  helpless 
creatures,  because  he  said  there  were  so  many  she«p 
that  before  the  coyotes  could  get  in  and  kill  them 
all  off ,  there  would  be  some  more  lambs  bred ,  and 
In  the  course  of  a  few  generations,  they  would  adapt 
and  become  wild  again,  so  you  really  would  have  sheep 
going  on.   I  took  it  the  other  way,  that  the  sheep 
would  not  survive. 

I  went  to  see  the  same  man  in  PG&E  with  whom  I 
had  worked  in  Storm  quite  a  bit.  He  was  their  chief 
engineer,  I  think.  He's  a  very  fine  specialist. 
Again,  not  a  man  of  imagination,  particularly.   I 
asked  him,  "What  would  happen  to  your  system  if  there 
were  no  men  around?"  He  gave  me  a  long  look  and  said, 
"You  know,  I  thought  I'd  considered  everything  possible 
to  this  company,  but  I  never  considered  what  would 
happen  if  there  weren't  any  men  around."  [laughter] 

He  gave  a  long  breath,  and  said,  "Well,  it  would 
be  about  this  way:   it  would  run  for  about  a  month. 
Parts  of  it  for  longer."  He  knew  it  so  well  he  could 
tell.  Then  he  said,  "It  wouldn't  all  go  out  at  once, 
Bang!   It  would  go  out  In  different  sections,  shut 
off.  Every  section  that  shut  off  would  give  more 
power  to  the  ones  that  were  left.  Parts  of  it  would 
keep  going  for  quite  a  while,  until  at  the  end  it 
would  fade  out." 

I  pretty  much  used  that  in  the  book,  although  I 
heightened  the  effect  in  the  end,  and  had  it  going  out 
just  while  Ish  was  looking  at  it.  Obviously,  because 
that's  the  way  I  had  to  express  it  in  a  novel. 

Of  course  I  started  out  with  Wendell  Stanley's 
quotation  there,  and  that  gave  me  something  to  work  on.* 

*"If  a  killing  type  of  virus  strain  should  suddenly 
arise  by  mutation... It  could,  because  of  the  rapid 
transportation  in  which  we  indulge  nowadays,  be 
carried  to  the  far  corners  of  the  earth  and  cause  the 
deaths  of  millions  of  people."  W.M.  Stanley,  in 
Chemical  and  Engineering  News.  Dec.  22,  19^9  • 


Stewart:   I  had  the  Idea  before  I  had  read  that  passage,  but 
that  gave  me  a  fine  quotation  for  the  beginning. 

Riess:    This  was  a  pretty  new  kind  of  thinking  for  those 

Stewart:  Well,  yes.  They've  done  more  of  it  now.  There  have 
been  whole  organizations,  you  know,  that  have  given 
themselves  up  to  speculating  what's  going  to  happen 
in  the  future.  It  was  much  newer  then.  It  was  a 
rather  new  skill  for  most  people.  Their  feelings — 
they  can't  think  that  way. 

I  talked  to  the  people  at  the  bridge  too.  They 
were  quite  interesting,  the  bridge  authorities.  They 
knew  exactly  where  the  bridge  was  going  to  wear  out. 
They  said  the  place  where  the  water  splashes  on  it 
rusts  already.  It's  a  very  slow  business  and  it's 
not  a  serious  matter.  It  can  be  fixed  up.  But  if 
there  were  no  men  around,  it  eventually  would  go  to 
pieces,  down  there.  But  even  so,  it  would  be  a  very 
long  time  before  it  went.  A  matter  of  many  years. 

Riess:    This  was  after  the  atomic  bomb,  but  this  isn't  the 
way  people  had  been  thinking? 

Stewart:  Well,  of  course  I  had  got  the  idea  a  long  time  before 
the  atomic  bomb.  And  I  didn't  want  the  atomic  bomb 
in  my  story,  for  obvious  reasons,  because  this  would 
Just  blow  everything  up,  the  animals  along  with 
everything  else.  This  isn't  that  story,  my  story. 

Riess:    Maybe  that  accounts  for  people  not  having  thought  of 
isolated  things  carrying  on.  If  they  had  thought  In 
those  years  of  devastation,  they  would  have  thought 
in  terms  of  total  devastation. 

Stewart:  That  would  have  been  true,  but  actually,  you  see,  I 

was  working  on  this  such  a  short  time  after  the  atomic 
bomb,  they  should  have  been  thinking  of  these  things 
before  that.  You  see,  the  atomic  bomb  was  19^5  and 
I  was  working  on  this  in  19^8.  Practically  the  same 

I  think,  as  I  said  before,  the  story  becomes 
really  the  story  of  the  rehabilitation,  so  to  me  it 
is  not  a  particularly  depressing  story,  not  a  disaster 





3 tewart : 


You  oertalnly  went  easy  on  what  happened  to  the 

Yes.  Well,  it's  one  of  my  feelings  anyway  that  all 
this  talk,  people  expressing  concern  over  what's 
going  to  happen  to  the  human  race — I  don't  think 
they  really  care.  The  human  race  as  an  abstraction 
is  not  really  Interesting,  you  see.  It's  the 
individual  human  beings  you're  attached  to,  and  if 
you  consider,  they'll  all  be  dead  in  a  hundred  years 
anyway.  I  don't  think  most  people  really  know  what 
they're  thinking  about  when  they  talk  about  the 
human  race.   Faceless  thing,  really.  It's  the 

individual  people  that  matter, 
idealistic  enough. 

Maybe  I'm  Just  not 

One  of  the  ideas  I  like  to  play  with  is  that 
there  may  have  been  a  superior  human  race  in  the 
past.  There's  no  reason  why  there  shouldn't  have 
been.  There's  no  reason  why  we  should  be  the  best 
there  ever  was.  When  you  look  at  some  of  the  achieve 
ments,  like  the  development  of  language — that's  Just 
an  incredible  thing.   It  strikes  me  that  there  were 
some  real  genius  types  somewhere  along  the  line  there 
that  did  a  lot  of  things. 

Within  our  history? 

Not  within  our  history,  no,  but  within  the  range  of, 
say,  anthropology,  the  skeletons  we  get,  and  so  forth. 
Although  we  may  not  have  found  the  right  ones. 

Oh.  That  sounds  like  you. 

Well,  I'm  not  talking  in  mystical  terms.   I  don't 
mean  something  that  existed  a  million,  ten  million 
years  ago.   I  mean,  say,  in  the  range  of  a  100,000 
years,  something  like  that. 

What  did  Ish  and  Em,  in  Earth  Abides,  stand  for? 

Well,  I  really  explained  that  pretty  well  in  the  book, 
the  fact  that  we  had  to  have  an  observer,  and  Ish 
was  the  observer,  with  that  curious  intellect,  and  Em 
is  the  figure  of  courage  that  holds  them  all  together. 
I  have  a  tremendous  fixation  on  courage,  as  you  may 
have  noticed.   I  believe  that's  the  basic  virtue.  If 
you  don't  have  courage,  you  don't  have  anything. 


Riess:    So  courage  has  nothing  to  do  with  intellect? 
Stewart:  No. 

Riess:    But  the  conflict,  in  the  book,  had  to  do  with  which 
would  survive. 

Stewart:  Yes.   It  was  very  important  there.   It  wasn't  so  much 
intellect  as  the  mechanisms  through  which  intellect 
is  working.   Intellect  would  be  there  Just  the  same, 
you  know.  You  wouldn't  breed  that  out  very  well. 
It's  the  tools  of  intellect  that  can't  be  preserved, 
and  become  useless.  At  least  I  think  that's  the  way 
it  is. 

Riess:    In  terms  of  a  "good  life"— do  you  think  Ish  had  what 
you  later  were  thinking  of  when  you  wrote  Good  Lives? 

Stewart:  I  think  he  did,  pretty  well,  yes.   I  really  do.   I 
never  thought  of  it  exactly  in  those  terms,  but  I 
think  he  did.  He  had  disappointments,  as  everybody 
has,  and  failures,  as  everybody  has.  My  people  in 
Good  Lives  had  failures,  all  of  them,  nearly  all  of 
them,  and  hard  times,  but  they  came  through.   I  think 
Ish  has  that.  Yes.  And  he  dies,  I  think,  rather 

Riess:    Reviewers  wrote  comments  such  as  "Stewart's  faith 

in  man's  destiny"  and  "a  lesson  for  the  human  race." 
I  wonder  what  the  lesson  for  the  human  race  was  that 
they  were  talking  about? 

Stewart:   I  think  courage,  probably.  To  keep  going  even  under 
the  threat  of  the  atomic  bomb.  Which  had  nothing  to 
do  with  the  book,  but  which  was  inherent  in  the  times, 

There  were  one  or  two  bad  reviews  of  Earth  Abides. 
Did  you  come  across  them?  There  was  one  woman  who 
thought  it  was  terrible,  and  I  was  trying  to  make  it 
out.  In  the  first  place,  I  think  she  was  a  Catholic. 
I  think  that  situation  bothered  her  somewhat,  that 
the  Catholic  Church  hadn't  survived.  Once  you  broke 
the  apostolic  succession,  you  couldn't  go  ahead! 
[laughter]   I  think  the  present  church  probably  could, 
but  the  church  back  in  those  days  couldn't  have  done 
that.   I  don't  quite  see  why  she  did.  She  said,  "Where 
are  all  those  wonderful  engineers  and  men  that  went 
out  and  fought  the  storm?"  Well,  obviously  they  were 


Stewart:  dead,  that's  where  they  were I 

I  don't  think  it  was  a  very  important  review. 
I  Just  thought  you  might  be  interested  to  come  across 

Riess:    I  should  think  people  might  have  wished  for  more 
detail  in  the  book. 

Stewart:  The  trouble  there  is  a  book  can  only  stand  so  much 
detail.  You  smother  a  novel  if  you  start  putting 
everything  in.  You've  got  these  things  you  can't 
follow  up.   It  gets  to  be  an  encyclopedia. 

Riess:    Actually,  here's  one  sort  of  querulous  review.   "Ish 
was  confronted  with  moral  and  psychological  problems, 
on  the  elementary  level,  and  George  Stewart  is  not 
altogether  happy  in  dealing  with  them. . .happier  with 
natural  processes." 

Stewart:  Yes.  Well,  that's  probably  true  enough.  It  was  a 
harder  book  to  write,  in  some  ways. 

Riess:    What  has  been  done  about  filming  it? 

Stewart:  Well,  it's  under  contract  with  an  option,  right  now. 
[see  p.  ^5]  Lots  of  people  have  played  around  with 
it,  yes.  Then  On  the  Beach  came  out,  and  that,  in  a 
way,  killed  off  that  idea  of  that  kind  of  book.  That 
was  a  big  movie,  you  remember.  That  killed  it  off 
for  a  long  time,  but  it  has  come  back,  and  it's 
actually  under  option.  I  had  an  inquiry  about  picture 
rights  on  Ordeal  by  Hunger  too,  Just  the  other  day. 
Called  from  Los  Angeles.   I  referred  them  to  Houghton- 
Mifflin.  They  buy  up  these  options  pretty  cheaply 
and  pretty  readily,  you  know,  and  that  doesn't  mean 
too  much.   I  wouldn't  be  surprised  if  they  sold  the 
option  on  that. 

Riess:    The  next  thing  you  got  into  was  the  oath,  and  the 
book,  Year  of  the  Oath. 

Stewart:   I  could  tell  you  something  about  that  whole  experience 
from  my  personal  participation,  though  I'm  sure  the 
project  has  a  tremendous  amount  of  testimony  on  that 

Riess:    Well,  nobody  seems  to  be  able  to  agree  on  what 

happened.  Why  is  there  so  much  confusion,  from  that 


Riess:    very  time  down  to  the  present? 

Stewart:  Probably  the  reason  there  was  so  much  confusion  is 
that  it  was  a  highly  charged,  emotional  issue,  and 
it  became  more  and  more  so.   Starting  out  rather 
simply,  it  became  more  and  more  complicated,  as  if 
some  bad  genius  were  directing  the  whole  thing.   It 
developed  into  personal  antipathies,  some  of  which 
never  died  out.  It  went  on  that  way. 

I  was  not,  at  the  beginning,  or  even  any  place, 
nearly  as  deeply  involved  emotionally  as  a  lot  of 
people  were.  People  like  Loewenburg,  for  Instance, 
were  tremendously  stirred  by  the  whole  thing.  I  think 
Caldwell  was  never  the  same  man  afterwards.   I  knew 
him  extremely  well.  And  there  were  quite  a  few  of 
them,  some  of  whom  remained  as  non-signers;  others 
signed,  eventually. 

Of  course  I  considered  the  question  of  whether  I 
should  not  sign  it.  I  finally  decided  that  it  wasn't 
my  bag,  as  they  would  say  these  days,  that  I  was 
really  not  enough  committed  on  the  matter  to  hang  out 
as  a  non-signer.   I  made  that  decision,  and  it's  very 
good  to  make  a  decision,  I  think.  Then  I  decided  I 
would  do  my  part.   I  would  do  this  book.  And  so  I 
did.  As  I  said  last  time,  I  consciously  realized  this 
book  was  a  very  good  therapeutic  project,  not  only 
for  me,  but  for  other  people  involved  in  it.  I  think 
it  worked  out  that  way.   It  helped  people  out  a  lot. 

If  some  people  had  come  in  and  worked  on  it, 
instead  of  sitting  around,  they  might  have  been  better 
off  too.  Anyway,  it  went  through.   It  was  one  of  the 
most  concentrated  Jobs  I've  ever  worked  on.   I  think 
I've  told  a  little  about  that.  So,  I  did  manage  to 
get  it  across.  And  as  I  have  to  say,  it's  not  much 
of  a  book,  because  it  was  written  before  the  thing 
was  over.  We  didn't  know  if  it  was  over  or  not.   I 
suppose  in  some  ways  it's  an  even  better  book  for 
that  reason,  because  it's  very  much  involved.   It  was 
written  right  in  that  time,  and  there  are  very  few 
examples  of  books  like  that  that  are  written  right  at 
the  time. 

Bless:    I  guess  people  felt  comfortable  working  on  that, 
getting  that  objectivity. 

Stewart:  Yes.  Yes,  I  think  they  did.   I  still  have  that  personal 
relationship  to  a  lot  of  the  people. 








So  they  must  have  decided  that  they  could  trust  you. 
These  are  people  you  hadn't  known  particularly, 
before  ? 

Most  of  them  I  had  known,  yes,  but  not  necessarily 
very  well.  The  English  department  was  very  heavily 
involved,  as  you  would  expect. 

Yes,  why  is  that? 

It's  the  same  old  phrase,  "the  spearhead  of  the 
humanities,"  they  are  that  group.  They're  the  ones 
who  see  things  from  a  humanistic  point  of  view,  I 
think,  more  than  any  other  department. 

More  than  history? 

Oh  yes.  Much  more  than  history.  History  has  tended 
more  to  go  over  to  the  social  sciences,  and  in  a 
sense  has  lost  the  humanistic  touch.   I  shouldn't  say 
that  out  loud,  I  suppose,  but  it  seems  to  be  true. 
Philosophy  has  got  into  a  specialty,  and  the  foreign 
languages  of  course  are  linguistic,  primarily,  rather 
than  humanistic. 

You  get  lots  of  individual  people  where  that 
doesn't  apply,  but  to  take  the  mass,  I  think  the 
English  department  supplies  far  more  than  its  share, 
and,  interestingly  enough,  the  speech  department  is 
somewhat  the  same. 

Had  people  been  spending  any  time  thinking  about 
academic  freedom  before 

No,  not  very  much.   I  think  that's  interesting, 
because  in  a  sense  you  don't  have  academic  freedom 
when  you  start  thinking  about  it.  You've  got  to  be 
in  a  state  of  innocence,  so  to  speak,  to  have  it, 
because  when  you  begin  thinking,  "This  is  my  academic 
freedom,  I'm  going  to  have  to  save  it,"  well,  then  of 
course  you  don't  have  academic  freedom.  You're 
fighting  for  it,  perhaps,  but  you  don't  really  have 

No,  we  didn't  have  much  problem  about  that, 
before.   I  don't  think  we  were  particularly  radical. 
I  don't  think  we  said  things  that  we  might  have  said 
at  times.  There  was  one  matter,  you  know,  in  19*K), 
I  think  when  the  regents  put  in  their  ant  1-  communist 



Stewart : 





rule.  That  went  down  with  scarcely  a  murmur,  whereas 
now  that  would  be  a  big  Issue.   I  know  I  was  worried 
about  It,  and  I  made  some  gestures,  talking  to  some 
of  the  older  men,  but  I  remember  they  didn't  get  tied 
up  In  It.   It  seemed  to  me  a  bad  thing  at  the  time. 
I  don't  know  how  many  other  people  felt  that  way, 
but  I  didn't  get  anywhere  on  It. 

What  was  the  Issue  that  got  you  involved  at  the 
University  of  Nevada? 

Well,  one  thing  that  I  did  undertake  when  I  did  not 
sign  the  oath — I  more  or  less  propagated  the  saying 
about  "Sign,  stay,  and  fight,"  which  was  a  good  slogan, 
you  see,  at  that  time.  Because  once  you  don't  sign, 
and  get  thrown  out,  why,  you're  dead.  And  you  can't 
do  anything.   If  all  the  men  who  objected  more  or  less 
to  the  oath  had  gone  out  of  the  university,  you  would 
have  had  a  conservative,  dead  University  left.  And 
so  I  was  rather  quick  to  take  up  something  else  which 
could  be  done. 

This  University  of  Nevada  business:  some 
particular  person  got  me  Interested  in  it,  and  it 
seemed  a  place  where  we  could  do  something.  So  I  got 
this  petition,  or  letter,  circulated.  We  got  it  signed 
pretty  well.   I  knew  how  to  organize  one  of  these 
things  now,  so  I  had  the  thing  worked  out  pretty  well. 
We  got  quite  a  good  lot  of  signatures,  and  we  mobilized 
Stanford,  and  Pomona,  and,  I  think,  UCLA.  We  got  quite 
a  movement  going,  and  I  thought  it  had  some  Influence. 
I  think  it  bucked  up  the  people  at  Nevada  considerably, 
which  of  course  was  the  reason  for  doing  it. 

It  didn't  last  very  long.   It  was  Just,  so  to 
speak,  a  quickie.  But  it  was  useful,  I  think. 

You  say  you  know  how  to  do  one  of  these  things, 
means  you  know  how  to  mobilize  signatures? 


Well,  sort  of  organize  things,  get  people  working 
for  it.  And  of  course  I  knew  the  campus.  I  knew 
where  you  could  get  things  done.  Incidentally,  the 
most  trouble  we  had  on  that  petition,  or  letter,  was 
the  zoology  department.   It  was  their  man  who  was  in 
trouble  up  there.  He  was  actually  a  Ph.D.  from  their 
department.  And  we  couldn't  get  any  signatures  out 
of  zoology.  I  think,  Just  because  they  were,  at 
that  time  at  least,  an  extremely  conservative,  non- 



Stewart:   committed  group.   I  remember  saying  to  the  man  (Jim 
Lynch)  who  was  working  as  my  chief  of  staff  on  it, 
"We've  got  to  get  somebody  from  zoology." 

He,  being  a  very  good  man,  went  down  and  had  to 
do  a  regular  secret  service  Job.  He  came  back  and 
said,  "First  I  got  in  touch  with  the  secretary  and 
asked  her.   She  said,  'Well  this  department  won't 
sign  anything,  but  you  might  get  this  man,  and  if 
you  get  him  you  might  get  this  other  fellow. ' "  So 
he  went  around  to  these  offices  and  he  got  this  man. 
He  got  a  couple  of  signatures,  so  it  didn't  look  too 
bad.  It  went  up  to  Nevada. 

Riess:    Chief  of  staff? 

Stewart:  Yes,  somebody  who  can  do  the  leg  work  and  is  willing 
to  do  it.  You  have  to  have  one  man  who  is  able  to 
sit  and  think  about  the  thing  a  little. 

Riess:    Do  you  think  if  you  hadn't  done  the  oath  book  that 
anybody  else  would  have? 

Stewart:  I  don't  think  anybody  else  would  have.  There  was  one 
man  who  started  to,  a  student.   In  fact  he  had  been 
working  on  the  Year  of  the  Oath.  We  didn't  have 
students  generally  on  that,  but  this  fellow  wanted  to 
do  things  so  much  that  we  said,  "Sure,  you  can  do 
something."  He  got  discontented  with  working  on  this 
Job  too.  He  pulled  out  and  said  he  was  going  to  do 
his  own  book,  but  he  never  got  anything  done. 

We  sent  out  a  questionnaire  to  the  faculty  that 
had  some  interesting  responses  on  it.  I  had  all  those 
questionnaires.  And  one  reason  I  have  a  scunner  on 
David  Gardner  was  that  he  didn't  bring  back  all  that 
stuff  he  borrowed  when  he  was  doing  his  book.* 

Riess:    "Scunner?" 

Stewart:  That's  an  old  saying.  S-c-u-n-n-e-r,  I  suppose,  though 
I  never  saw  it  spelled.   It  means  I'm  slightly 

*David  P.  Gardner,  The  California  Oath  Controversy. 
Berkeley,  196?. 


Rless:    I  remember  oase  histories  at  the  back.  Were  they 
from  the  questionnaire? 

Stewart:  Yes.   I  tried  to  do  the  book  to  keep  it  on  a  kind  of 
personal  basis.   It  was  a  good  idea  to  get  away  from 
the  social  science  approach,  and  try  to  put  it  in  a 
personal  manner.  You  get  accused  of  being  sentimental 
in  a  case  of  that  sort,  but  maybe  you  are. 

Riess:    Speaking  of  issues,  was  your  interest  in  the  Vigilantes 
all  of  a  piece  with  this? 

Stewart:  No,  I  don't  think  so.  The  interest  in  the  Vigilantes 
went  back  a  long,  long,  way,  clear  to  1920.   I  had 
done  a  course  with  Chauncey  Wells — that  composition 
course — in  which  I  had  the  general  background  of 
California  to  work  on,  and  I  got  into  the  Vigilantes 
at  that  time,  particularly  the  newspaper  reports  of 
1851 »  which  are  terribly  fascinating  things  to  me 
still.  And  way  back  in  early  1930  I  had  tried  to  do 
a  book  on  the  Vigilantes  of  1851.   I  tried  to  do  it 
Just  from  newspaper  clippings.  Actually  some  publisher 
was  going  to  publish  that,  but  he  never  did.   I  think 
he  went  broke  or  something.  Some  second-string 

The  thing  still  kept  with  me.   I  had  this  big 
pile  of  stuff  on  it,  and  finally  I  used  it.  I'm  not 
sure  it  was  a  good  idea.   It  wasn't  a  book  that 
interested  people  a  great  deal.  But  that  was  a  long 
time  in  the  background.   It  didn't  have  anything  to 
do  with  the  oath,   r Committee  of  Vigilance,  1964] 

Riess:    After  the  oath  book  you  wrote  Sheep  Rook,  which  seemed 
different  from  all  your  other  things. 

Stewart:  Well,  it  is  and  it  Isn't.   It's  different  in  some 
respects,  but  It  still  has  the  theme  of  ecology — I 
mean  ecology  in  the  older  sense,  that  is,  all  the 
things  that  go  to  make  up  a  place. 

Riess:    But  now  there's  a  sort  of  troubled  soul,  it  seems  to 

me,  in  the  middle  of  all  that.  A  real  sense  of  a  man — 

Stewart:  Yes.  Yes.  A  man  trying  to  understand  it.   I  don't 

think  that  I'm  that  man,  though.   I  think  that's  pretty 
objectively  conceived.   I'm  the  other  man  in  the  book, 
you  know,  the  man  who  goes  out  across  the  flats  in 
the  oar. 




Stewart : 





Stewart : 

The  other  fellow  is  the  observer,  who  is  a 
character  all  right.  His  soul  is  troubled,  no 
question  about  that.  But  I  don't  think  it's  my  soul. 

How  was  that  book  planned? 

For  a  long  time  I  had  the  place  pretty  much  in  my 
mind,  and  it's  a  small  place.   I  didn't  need  to  work 
out  so  very  much.   Of  course,  it's  a  complicated 
structure  of  a  book,  I  suppose.   It's  sort  of  three 

times  round  and  three  times  round, 
all  comes  off. 

I'm  not  sure  it 

I  went  out  there,  in  19^1,  with  Charlie  Camp. 
And  I  think  I  got  the  idea  of  a  book  almost  immediately, 
while  I  was  there.  The  story  of  our  going  out  there 
is  pretty  much  what  happened,  except  that  there 
weren't  any  sheep.  That  was  an  imaginative  part  there. 
There  could  have  been,  because  that's  sheep  country, 

And  what  is  the  name  of  the  real  place? 

Black  Rock.   It's  very  much  as  described  there. 

But  you  never  lived  there  for  any  extended  period  of 

No,  I  never  lived  there  for  more  than  a  few  days  at 
a  time.   It  used  to  scare  me  to  death.  I  suppose 
that's  why  it  fascinated  me  so  much.  It's  a  grim 
place.  You're  isolated.   If  you  had  any  accident, 
you'd  never  get  out. 

It's  a  place  of  extremes.   I've  been  shivering 
at  a  little  campfire  Just  before  the  sun  was  up  over 
the  ridge  there.  The  sun  didn't  get  up  very  early, 
because  you  were  under  the  ridge.   I  was  Just 
shivering,  with  all  the  clothes  on  I  could  get.  The 
sun  comes  up,  and  it's  Just  like  standing  in  front 
of  a  fire.  Just  Bang!  You  start  taking  your  sweater 
off,  and  then  it's  hot!  The  temperature  must  Jump 
fifty  degrees  or  something,  Just  in  that  time.   It's 
Just  the  pitiless  cold  and  the  pitiless  heat,  coming 
on  like  that. 

I  got  into  that  place  a  lot  more  when  I  worked 
on  The  California  Trail.   (I  mean,  I  got  into  the 
knowledge.   I  wasn't  out  there.)  A  lot  of  the 


Stewart:   Forty-niners  went  around  that  way.   I  hadn't  realized 
how  many  of  them  there  were  when  I  first  worked  on  It. 

Rless:    Did  you  first  work  on  It  In  19^1? 

Stewart:   No,  I  didn't  do  any  work  on  that  book  at  all  until 

not  so  long  before  I  published  It.   I  did  collect  some 
Information  as  I  went  along.  I  was  out  there  quite 
a  few  times,  after  the  war  was  over,  you  see.   I 
couldn't  go  during  the  war,  because  there  was  no 
gasoline.  But  then  after  that  I  got  out  there  several 
times  with  different  people.  So  I  got  different 
points  of  view  on  it.  This  Parker  Trask  went  with  me, 
and  worked  out  the  whole  geology  for  me,  about  what 
was  there  and  what  had  happened.   Carl  Sauer,  the 
geographer,  and  Starker  Leopold,  the  wild-life  expert, 
were  also  along,  but  I  remember  that  trip  largely  for 
car- trouble.   I  took  a  couple  of  young  anthropologists 
out  there  once,  and  they  were  very  interesting. 

Riess:    Is  it  a  place  that  brings  out  the  same  kind  of  things 
in  other  people  as  it  did  in  you? 

Stewart:  Well,  it  does,  yes,  if  you're  a  certain  type,  if 
you're  sensitive  to  that  sort  of  thing.  Kenneth 
Carpenter  and  his  wife,  at  Reno — I  think  I  told  you 
that  they  were  fascinated  with  the  place.  He's  the 
man  who  sent  me  the  picture  of  it  there. 

Riess:    Was  it  an  easy  book  to  write? 

Stewart:  It  was  rather  hard  to  write.   I'm  making  it  sound  as 
if  all  my  books  are  hard  to  write.   I  can  also  give 
the  impression  that  they  were  easy  to  write!   It  was 
hard  to  get  it  the  way  I  wanted  it,  anyway. 

Riess:    You  said  something  about  point  of  view  being  difficult 

Stewart:  Well,  I  was  trying  to  get  as  many  as  possible  points 
of  view,  as  you  can  see.  The  point  of  view  is  very 
various.  A  lot  of  it  is  objective  point  of  view, 
though.  But  there  are  also  the  other  people  that  are 


Riess:    What  about  all  those  objects  that  figure  in  your  books? 
Where  is  the  blue  pitcher  from  Sheep  Rock? 



Stewart:  The  Carpenters  have  that.   I  gave  that  to  them.   I 
thought  they'd  give  it  a  good  home,   [laughing] 
The  hammer  (Earth  Abides)  is  right  over  there.   I 
guess  you  saw  that.   I  don't  have  anything  much 
from  Black  Rock  now,  except  I've  got  a  nice  obsidian 
point  that  a  man  gave  me  at  a  cocktail  party,  a  great 
big  cocktail  party  down  at  the  Palace,  as  a  matter  of 
fact.  The  Historical  Society  gave  this  big  cocktail 
party,  and.  this  guy  came  over  through  the  midst  of 
about  two  hundred  people,  and  he  told  me  his  name. 
He  said,  "I've  got  something  for  you."  And  he  gave 
me  this  thing.  A  very  funny  business.  It's  a  nice 
thing  to  have  a  man  who  comes  to  cocktail  parties  and 
gives  you  something,   [laughing] 

Here  it  is,  a  projectile  point  of  some  kind. 
There  used  to  be  lots  of  them  around  Black  Rock.  Now, 
they've  been  pretty  well  picked  up.   I  picked  up  some 
of  them,  myself. 

Riess:    How  did  you  choose  sheep  for  renaming  Black  Rock? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  didn't  want  to  use  the  Black  Rock  name  for  it, 
because  I  wanted  to  keep  the  book  a  novel.  Sheep 
Rock  is  a  common  term  and  occurs  various  places  in 
the  Western  states.  Usually  for  wild  sheep,  for 
mountain  sheep,  and  sometimes  for  domestic  sheep.   It's 
a  nice,  solid  name.  I  liked  it.  A  good  straight 
forward  name.  And  it  tied  in  with  the  theme  of  the 
sheep,  which  I  used  in  the  book. 

To  talk  about  Sheep  Rook  as  one  in  a  series  of 
novels,  I  may  say  that  it  represents  a  kind  of  end 
point.  The  series  starts  with  Storm,  runs  on  through 
Fire  and  Earth  Abides,  and  in  a  way  comes  to  an  end 
in  Sheep  Rook,  although  the  Years  of  the  City  in  a  way 
carry  some  of  the  ideas  on.  These  might  be  called  my 
ecological  novels.  They  came  very  swiftly  one  after 
the  other,  especially  when  you  consider  that  I  was 
writing  nonflctlon  books  during  that  period  also. 
These  books  I  had  in  mind  clearly  long  before  I  wrote 
them,  and  was  just  waiting  to  get  a  chance  to  get  at 
them.   On  the  other  hand,  I  thought  a  great  deal  about 
what  I  was  going  to  do  next  before  I  decided  to  write 
the  Years  of  the  Citv. 

Riess:    What  did  you  get  into  after  Sheep  Rook? 


Stewart:  In  1951  we  took  a  six-month  trip  to  Europe.  We 

hadn't  been  there  In  a  long  time.  We  got  a  car  in 
England,  and  we  drove  around  the  British  Isles,  and 
then  down  clear  to  Sicily.  Then  we  drove  around  back 
over  the  Ionian  Coast  to  Brindisi,  and  took  a  boat  to 
Greece,  which  was  almost  pioneering  in  those  days. 
You  see,  there  was  little  traffic  to  Greece  then,  on 
account  of  the  civil  war  Just  being  over.  We  spent 
a  month  in  Athens.  So  I  was  out  of  circulation,  and 
I  wasn't  doing  any  writing  at  that  time. 

Then,  of  course,  I  had  done  the  work  on  U.S.  *fO« 
pretty  much,  by  that  time.  We  came  back  to  the  United 
States  in  January,  and  along  about  July  I  got  a  call 
from  Washington  about  whether  I  would  take  the 
Pulbright  Professorship  at  Athens.   I  hadn't  had  any 
intention  of  that.   I  hadn't  been  in  negotiation  or 
anything.   I  said  I  could  take  it  for  half  a  year. 
I  wouldn't  take  it  for  a  year,  because  in  the  arrange 
ment  I  had  with  the  University  I  couldn't  afford  to 
take  a  whole  year  off.   I  took  every  half  a  year  off 
anyway,  and  if  I  took  the  other  half  a  year  off,  I 
lost  all  the  salary.  So  it  was  Just  too  much.  They 
were  hard  up  for  somebody,  so  they  took  me  for  half 
a  year. 

Having  come  back  from  Greece  in  January,  I  thus 
went  back  again  in  August,  though  I  hadn't  expected  to, 
and  spent  that  time  in  Athens.  So  that  took  me  again 
away  from  doing  my  writing.   U.S.  ^0  actually  came  out 
while  I  was  in  Athens  that  second  time. 

Riess:    I  thought  that  was  the  sort  of  thing  people  applied 
for,  Pul bright s. 

Stewart:   I  don't  know  how  it  is  at  the  professorial  level.  I 
rather  think  they  would  be  asked,  in  most  cases.  At 
the  graduate  student  level,  I  think  you'd  apply.  They 
naturally  wouldn't  know  about  graduate  students.   I 
don't  know  how  I  was  picked  out.  Of  course,  I'd  been 
in  Athens,  and  it  might  have  been  through  Morris 
Bishop,  who  was  the  previous  professor.   I  had  met 
him  there.  He  might  have  passed  my  name  on.   I  never 
asked  him. 

Riess:    Were  you  to  lecture  on  "American  Ways  of  Life?" 

Stewart:  That  was  the  topic  I  chose,  with  the  idea  of  doing  that 
book,  eventually,  out  of  it.  I'd  had  that  book  in  mind 


Stewart:  for  quite  a  long  time.  A  great  deal  of  it  I  did  do, 
as  lectures  in  Athens,  not  all  of  it. 

Riess:    You  had  been  working  on  U.S.  40  then  too?  Amazing! 

Stewart:  Well,  I  practice  superfetation.  Do  you  know  what 
that  is? 

Riess:    No. 

Stewart:  Superfetation  is  what  a  rabbit  does.  She  starts  one 
litter  before  she  finishes  the  last,   [laughter]  You 
could  probably  find,  that  out  in  this  book  here.  Those 
are  the  kind  of  dates  I  put  in.  I  know  I  did  the  one 
trip  for  U.S.  4-0  just  at  the  time  I'd  finished  doing 
the  work  on  Year  of  the  Oath.  I  was  in  daily  communica 
tion  with  Berkeley,  because  I'd  have  to  telephone  back. 

You'll  get  a  lot  out  of  this  book,   [date  book] 
Here  are  where  the  Black  Rock  trips  are  narked.  On 
August  10  I  left  Berkeley  for  the  U.S.  40  trip,  1950. 
I  got  back  on  September  20.   It  will  tell  you  that 
kind  of  thing.  That  was  the  big  trip  I  took  there. 
I'd  done  some  work  on  it  before.  Oh,  if  I  get  to 

reading  in  this, 
it  down  here. 

I  won't  do  anything  else.   I'll  put 

So  I  did  the  work  on  U.S.  40.   What  I  was  trying 
to  do  there — these  picture  books  were  Just  becoming  popul; 
you  see,  and  I  knew  I  was  an  anachronism  doing  this, 
because  I  believe  a  picture  should  tell  a  story,  which 
is  the  last  thing  any  of  these  people  think.  So  I 
told  the  story  of  each  picture,  what  really  was  in  it. 
I  think  there's  still  a  lot  to  be  said  for  that  theory, 
because  all  these  books  of  pictures,  people  just  turn 
the  pages,  and  they  get  an  aesthetic  appreciation,  a 
fine  moment,  from  them.  But  they  don't  really  know 
what's  in  the  picture.   I  think  that's  too  bad.  If 
you've  looked  at  that  book  you  know  I  try  to  hold  a 
person  on  the  page  as  long  as  you  can,  to  see  what's 
going  on. 

What  I  tried  to  work  out  in  that  book  was  Just 
exactly  what  everything  was.  In  the  fine  old  pictures 
of  the  Civil  War — they  send  me  this  Civil  War  magazine — 
you  can't  tell  what's  happening  half  the  time,  what 
those  people  are  doing,  whether  they're  officers  or 
men,  that  kind  of  thing. 


Stewart : 




Stewart  : 



So,  did  you  propose  this  book  to  Houghton-Mifflin? 

I  proposed  it  to  Random  House  first.  They  didn't 
like  the  idea.  'That's  one  of  my  quarrels  with  Random 
House.   So  I  took  it  to  Houghton-Mifflin  who  did  like 
the  idea.   Of  course,  I  think  a  publisher  is  always 
more  receptive  to  a  man  who  isn't  his  author  already 
than  he  is  to  somebody  who  is,  because  he  likes  to 
get  somebody  who's  with  another  publisher. 

Anyway,  they  took  it.  That  book  went  over  quite 
well.  It  had  a  short  life  because  the  new  idea  on 
freeways  killed  old  U.S.  *K).  Remember  my  mentioning 
the  sudden  flurry  about  the  pictures  from  that? 

Oh,  the  Metropolitan  Museum? 

Are  they  still  calling 

No,  they  were  finally  satisfied  with  a  picture  of  the 
White  Owl  truck.  Why  they  wanted  the  White  Owl  truck, 
I'll  never  know.  Actually,  you  see,  the  pictures  that 
they  picked  out  seemed  to  me  to  be  among  the  poorer 
pictures.   I  had  the  terrible  feeling  they  were  going 
to  use  it  for  a  horrible  example,  or  something. 

Did  you  ever  find  out  Just  what  they  were  putting 

Not  exactly.   It  was  some  exhibition  about  America,  I 
think  to  send  around  to  schools.  One  thing  I  gathered 
was — they  said  it's  very  difficult  to  get  pictures 
with  descriptions  of  them,  which  is  of  course  exactly 
what  I  was  doing. 

A  couple  of  young  fellows  got  a  hold  of  that 
book,  and  wanted  to  make  a  movie  out  of  that.  They 
did  quite  a  bit  of  work  on  It  for  a  documentary.  But 
they  didn't  come  across,  finally.  They  couldn't  get 
anybody  to  back  them. 

Was  much  of  the  American  Ways  of  Life  written  in 
response  to  the  questions  people  in  a  foreign  country 
have  about  America? 

I  got  something  out  of  that,  yes.  Of  course  I'd  spent 
a  good  deal  of  time  abroad  Just  recently,  before  that. 
But  the  idea  went  back  a  good  deal  farther  than  that. 
You  see,  when  I  say  that  my  books  have  been  a  long 
time  on  the  back  of  the  stove,  that's  pretty  true, 



Some  of  the  things, 
People's  horror,  for 

Stewart:  when  you  mention  various  ones, 
of  course,  I  got  from  Greece, 
instance,  at  the  idea  of  drinking  milk. 

I  always  felt  strange  that  the  book  didn't  do 
better,  actually,  because  I  think  it's  a  good  book. 
Now  it's  a  little  bit  out  of  date.  Things  do  move, 
and  there  are  a  few  chapters  that  ought  to  be  done 
over,  but  I  don't  want  to  do  them  over.  The  book  has 
possibilities,  though.  The  anthropologists  have  not 
taken  it  up  as  much  as  I  expected.   I  think  it  must 
have  been,  again,  oversimplification.  That  seems  to 
be  one  of  my  difficulties. 

Bless:    By  taking  it  up,  do  you  mean  acclaim  it,  or  take  issue 
with  it? 

Stewart:  Well,  no,  to  maybe  use  it  in  courses,  or  that  sort 
of  thing.  Because  it  really  is  the  anthropology  of 
a  large  modern  country.   It  could  be  called  anthropology, 

Riess:    Did  you  do  much  consulting  with  people  in  writing  it? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  did  some.  I  did  most  of  that  myself,  though, 
and  largely  from  my  own  background. 

One  of  the  reasons  why  it  may  not  have  been  more 
successful  was  that  it  represented,  in  the  end,  as  it 
worked  out,  a  rather  strong  point  of  view  which  now 
would  be  called  "Wasp"-lsh.   I  didn't  set  out  to  do  it 
that  way.  But  as  I  came  to  sum  matters  up,  I  could 
come  to  the  conclusion  only  that  a  tremendous  amount 
of  what  we  now  think  of  as  being  American  was 
originally  English.  This  is  now  an  unpopular  inter 
pretation.  It  is  especially  unpopular  among  the 
people  who  do  book -re viewing  and  who  do  a  great  deal 
of  teaching.  You  are  supposed,  I  think,  to  emphasize 
more  the  contributions  of  all  the  various  minorities 
and  more  recent  emigrants. 

I  might  as  well  say  something  about  the  Wasp 
here  since  when  this  may  be  dug  out  of  the  files  a 
generation  in  the  future  people  may  be  interested  in 
Just  that  point.*  I  think  it  very  strange  in  one 
particular.  People  who  would  never  think  of  using 
what  is  known  as  an  ethnic  derogatory  such  as  "nigger," 
or  "Wop,"  or  even  "Jew,"  will  go  right  ahead  and  use 
"Wasp"  though  that  is  obviously  another  ethnic 
derogatory.  The  Wasp  Is  pictured  as  stick-in-the-mud, 

*"Wasp"  means  White  Anglo-Saxon  Protestant. 


Stewart : 



Stewart : 

Stewart : 

hopelessly  reactionary,  un-artistic,  and  living  on 
peanut  butter  sandwiches.   I  am  one  hundred  percent 
Wasp  myself,  and  yet  I  don't  particularly  fit  into 
that  stereotype.   Of  course,  the  whole  thing  is 
"breaking  down  pretty  rapidly  in  any  case.  In  my  old 
Wasp  family,  two  people,  for  instance,  are  married  to 
Americans  of  Italian  extraction. 

The  book  had  good  reviews,  but  never  really 
caught  on.   There  was  a  translation  into  Japanese, 
and  perhaps  one  or  two  others. 

I  wrote  a  good  deal  of  the  book  while  I  was  in 
Athens  as  Pulbrlght  professor  at  the  University  of 
Athens.  That  was  in  1952-53.   One  of  my  duties  was 
to  give  a  series  of  public  lectures,  and  I  gave  them 
on  this  topic.   I  worked  out  about  six  of  the  chapters 
as  lectures  delivered  in  Athens. 

The  State  Department  took  about  1500  copies  for 
foreign  distribution.  There  was  also  a  paperback 
edition,  which  was  usually  for  sale  at  airports. 

Three  books  came  out  that  year, 
California  Trail  was  one. 

The  Opening  of  the 


Well,  that's  not  really  a  book,  that's  that  narrative 
of  Schallenberger  plus  a  rather  exhaustive  introduction 
I  wrote  for  it,  and  notes.  Then  there  was  U.S.  4-0, 
and  what  else? 

To  California  by  Covered  Wagon. 

That's  a  Juvenile,  and  the  same  story  as  the  one  on 
the  California  Trail.  I  worked  that  story  to  death, 
[laughing]  I've  written  it  four  or  five  times.  That 
little  Juvenile  is  still  going. 

And  nobody  else  had  written  it  before? 

It  escaped  the  historians,  you  see.  The  manuscript 
came  to  Bancroft  too  late.  So  all  he  has  on  it  is 
long  notes.  Nobody  else  ever  worked  the  story  out. 
People  knew  it.  But  it  had  never  been  put  out  in  any 
form  for  people  to  read. 

I  finally  got  a  copy  of  the  Years  of  the  Cit.7*  though 
I'm  afraid  that  by  the  time  I  read  it  — 


Stewart:  It  will  take  you  a  while. 

Riess:    "Onoe  again,  in  his  always  incalculable  fashion, 

George  Stewart  has  selected  an  ordinary  subject  and 
invested  it  with  pity  and  terror,  and  fired  it  to 
incandescence  in  the  crucible  of  his  imagination," 

Stewart:   I  think  I  remember  that. 

Riess:    How  much  of  Years  of  the  City  is  true? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  tried  not  to  tie  it  to  any  place  too  particularly. 
As  I  say  in  the  little  introductory  note,  it's  obviously 
Greek,  because  it  has  Greek  names  in  it.  It's  a  Greek 
colony.  That's  a  period  that  interests  me  very  much. 
I  didn't  date  it  in  the  story.  There's  a  reference 
to  only  one  historical  event  in  the  whole  thing.  So 
if  you  spot  that,  and  date  it,  why,  you'll  get  the 
date.   But  it  actually  runs  from  about  ?00  to  500  B.C. 

I  was  trying  to  do  that  whole  sweep  of  the  novel, 
covering  that  length  of  time.   I  guess  I  told  you  the 
device  by  which  I  spread  out  the  time?  The  different 
characters?  With  the  inter-chapters  used  again  to 
skip  over  the  time  that  lies  in-between. 

There's  something  about  the  tragedy  of  those 
Greek  colonies.  They  started  out  so  finely,  so  many 
of  them,  and  they  Just  seemed  to  grow  old,  and  the 
situation  changed.  They  couldn't  meet  it,  and  they 
were  engulfed  by  the  Carthaginians,  or  the  Romans,  or 
somebody  else.  They  were  lovely  places — I  suppose 
a  little  provincial,  but  they  must  have  been  quite 
fine  places.  One  of  "them  developed  the  Eleatic 
philosophers.  Pythagoras  was  there.  Plato  visited 
some  of  the  colonies.  Herodotus  settled  in  one  of 
them.   It's  really  a  very  great  tragedy. 

Yet  I  don't  want  to  use  the  word  tragedy,  because 
in  a  sense  they  lived  their  lives.  They're  a  bit  like 
human  beings.  Two  hundred  years  to  run  is  a  very 
common  length,  between  the  founding  and  the  ending. 
They're  like  human  beings  also  in  that  they  have  a 
definite  founding,  a  definite  birth.  They  kept  that 
record.   In  fact,  it's  my  personal  theory  that  the 
Roman  dating  of  Urbe  Condi ta  is  really  the  founding 
of  Cumae,  which  is  the  first  Greek  colony  in  Italy, 
and  would  have  established  some  dating. 



Stewart : 

They  started  out,  they  had  a  founder,  you  see, 
an  official  founder.  They  were  founded  under  the 
auspices  of  the  Delphic  Oracle,  most  of  them.  There 
are  a  lot  of  analogies  with  the  United  States,  too. 
They  had  many  of  the  same  problems.   They  had  the 
natives  to  contend  with.   I'd  like  to  write  a  book  on 

the  Greek  colonies,  but  it's  too  much  of  a  Job. 
got  a  lot  of  ideas  that  nobody  has  ever  used. 



They  had  to  have  military  superiority.  This 
what  the  colonists  in  America  had.  They  had  it 
through  gunpowder  largely.   I  think  the  Greeks  had 
it  through  the  invention  of  the  phalanx,  heavily  armed 
men  that  allowed  them  to  defeat  these  hill  people 
without  much  difficulty.  They  got  some  bad  defeats 
themselves,  sometimes.   It  wasn't  always  their  way. 

So  I  took  this  city  and  I  started  on  the  day  they 
land,  when  the  first  ship  comes  ashore.  There  is  an 
uninhabited  coast  there,  because  the  people  have  been 
driven  out  of  the  coastal  plain  by  piracy,  which 
actually  happened  sometimes.  They  were  living  back 
in  the  hills,  so  the  plain  was  open  for  anybody  who 
could  take  It  and  hold  it.  That's  where  the  Greeks 
moved  In,  practically  all  around  the  Mediterranean. 
Then  they  built  their  wall.  Until  they  got  their 
wall  built,  they  were  vulnerable.  That  was  another 
thing  they  did,  almost  immediately. 

Then  I  traced  out  the  first  part,  the  founding, 
as  seen  through  the  eyes  of  the  boy.  I  think  on  the 
whole  the  book  came  out  pretty  well.  Of  course,  it's 
never  been  a  popular  book,  and  never  will  be.  It's 
too  long  for  most  people,  for  one  thing.   It  doesn't 
in  an  obvious  way  touch  the  great  ideas  of  the  present 
time.  Although  in  a  more  basic  way  I  think  it  does. 
The  question  of  civilization* 

Did  you  make  those  speculations  in  the  book,  or  is  it 
up  to  the  reader  to  see  the  parallels? 

No,  I  didn't  express  them.   They'd  have  to  be  seen, 

Do  you  think  that  the  present-day  Greeks  have  a  sense 
of  this  history,  themselves? 

Oh,  some  of  them  do.  They're  very  patriotic,  and 
very  much  into  that  sort  of  thing.  And  terribly  bored 



Stewart:  with  it,  too,  the  younger  people,  because  they're 

made  to  take  ancient  Greek.  They  look  upon  that  as 
a  great  hardship.  They  don't  want  to  read  Homer. 
That's  what  you  would  expect,  after  all. 

There's  very  little  record  of  the  Greek  colonies. 
Thucydides  says  something  about  them.  On  some  of  the 
later  colonies,  like  Syracuse,  there's  a  good  deal. 
You  see,  this  was  a  fairly  early  period  I  was  working 
with.  There's  almost  no  record  of  Greeks  when  you 
get  back  to  ?00  B.C. 

But  I  worked  in  some  anecdotes  that  are  preserved 
by  one  person  or  another — I  Just  made  use  of  them — 
which  a  classical  scholar  might  recognize,  although 
they're  pretty  obscure.  There  was  a  very  good  book 
called  The  Western  Greeks  by  a  man  named  Dunbabin 
whom  I  met  at  Oxford.  That  book  really  did  more  to 
give  me  ideas  and  data  than  any  other  thing  I  read. 
It's  a  very  moving  period.   I  carried  Dunbabin' s  book 
through  Sicily. 

And  of  course  I'm  a  great  man  on  Homer,  too.  I 
get  a  lot  out  of  Homer.   (I  read  him  pretty  well  in 
the  original.)  I  got  something  out  of  Homer  for  this 

I  also  think  there's  been  a  lot  of  nonsense 
written  about  the  ancient  Greeks.  I  took  that  attitude 
to  some  extent  in  Man.   I  didn't  give  the  Greeks  nearly 
as  good  a  hand  as  most  people  do.   I  tried  to  bring 
that  out  in  this  book  too.  Most  of  the  ancient  Greeks 
were  Just  ordinary  people  like  us.  There  were  a  few 
philosophers  and  poets,  but  there  probably  weren't  so 
very  many  more  than  we  have,  either. 

Bless:    You  don't  suggest  that  they  were  once  a  really  great 

Stewart:  Well,  they  were  a  great  race,  but  they  had  their 

weaknesses.  The  very  fact  that  they  couldn't  survive, 
see,  was  one  thing.   I  suppose  in  the  military  sense 
they  were  in  an  impossible  situation,  scattered  all 
around  the  edge.   I  think  it  was  Plato  who  said  their 
cities  were  like  frogs  on  the  edge  of  a  pool.  That's 
about  the  way  it  was.  They  had  no  means  of  defense, 
and  they  couldn't  ever  agree  among  themselves.  They 
fought  each  other  all  the  time. 




Stewart:       In  the  end  I  had  my  city  overthrown  by  another 
city,  plus  the  people  from  the  hills,  who  start 
moving  down  again.  They  were  more  or  less  like  the 
Romans.  That's  an  old  story.  This  city,  although  I 
didn't  spot  it  In  the  book,  would  be  on  the  Ionian 
coast  of  Italy.   I  drove  along  there  a  couple  of  times 
and  placed  it  in  there. 

Riess:    What  are  the  parallels  to  the  United  States? 

Stewart:  Well,  you  have  a  lot  of  parallels.  There's  such  a 

thing  as  the  problem  of  domestic  animals — where  do  you 
get  your  animals  from?  That  was  a  big  problem, 
tremendous  problem.  I  dealt  with  that  in  American  Ways 
of  Life  in  the  United  States.  Greece  must  have  had  the 
same  problem.  You  couldn't  bring  very  many  animals 
on  the  little  ships  they  had  in  those  days.  They 
could  get  them  from  the  hill  people,  probably.  That's 
what  I  had  them  doing  in  this  story.  After  they  fight 
their  first  battle,  they  make  up  a  treaty  with  the  hill 
people,  and  then  they're  able  to  buy  animals  from  them 
to  get  started. 

Then  the  question  of  the  intrusion  into  a  country 
where  people  are  living  already.  You  have  the  military 
superiority,  but  not  so  much  that  you  can  be  too 
careless  about  it.  You  have  to  defend  yourself  and 
be  ready  at  all  times. 

And  then  the  general  idea  of  whether  a  country 
does  grow  old  or  not,  and  Just  what  period  we're  in 
right  now,  which  in  a  way  looks  like  my  third  period 
coming  up. 

Riess:    It's  not  that  two  hundred  years  is  a  suggestive  period 
of  time? 

Stewart:  No,  I  don't  think  you  could  make  any  comparison  there, 
as  closely  as  that.  I'm  not  too  much  convinced  of 
this  idea  of  a  circular  pattern  of  history,  anyway. 
I  don't  think  that  has  too  much  to  go  on.   It  happens 
sometimes.   It  did  happen  in  those  Greek  colonies 
pretty  often. 

Riess:    When  this  book  came  out,  did  you  have  response  from 

Stewart:  Very  little.  The  book  didn't  make  much  impression,  no. 
The  book  re-reads  very  well.  I  like  certain  parts  of 


Stewart:  it  very  much,  although  I  find  myself  avoiding  the 
third  book.  I  think  that  the  fourth  book  comes  off 
very  well. 

Riess:    As  we  move  chronologically  through  your  career  in 
writing,  I  wonder  if  you  ever  had  a  fallow  period. 
There  doesn't  seem  to  be  one. 

Stewart:  No,  there  wasn't  very  much.   I  ran  a  terrific  run, 

oh,  you  might  say  from  the  beginning  of  writing  novels 
up  until  I  wrote  Sheep  Rock.  I  never  was  at  a  loss 
for  which  way  to  turn.  I  always  had  them  sort  of 
stacked  up  waiting  to  get  into  production.  I  would 
carry  one  in  my  mind,  saying,  "Gee,  when  can  I  get 
at  that?  That  would  be  good  to  work  on  that  one,  but 
I  can't  start  that  one  yet,  because  I've  got  to  finish 
this  one." 

And  then,  about  at  Sheep  Rock,  I  came  to  a  sort 
of  end.   It  wasn't  the  same  after  that.  And  it 
hasn't  been,  since  that  time.  Of  course,  U.S.  *K) 
was  a  different  type  of  thing.   I  wanted  to  do  that. 
I'd  wanted  to  do  it  for  a  long  time,  but  it  was  a  kind 
of  different  thing.  It  led  to  N.A.  I  but  that  didn't 
get  anywhere  farther  than  that. 

I  was  very  doubtful  before  I  wrote  the  Years  of 
the  City.   I  did  a  lot  of  thinking  about  that.   I  was 
very  doubtful  about  taking  it  up,  whether  it  was  the 
book  I  wanted  to  do.  But  that  was  something  I  hadn't 
experienced  before. 

Also,  in  Sheep  Rook  just  a  little,  and  then  in 
Years  of  the  City,  I  had  a  certain  sense  of  a  flagging 
imagination,  a  little,  bit.  Things  didn't  come  as 
richly  as  it  had  at  times  before.   I  think  that's 
basically  the  reason  why  I  haven't  written  any  more 
novels  after  that.  I  think  a  novelist  is  likely  to 
reach  that  stage,  and  just  putting  stuff  out  to  put 
it  out,  well,  I  didn't  want  to  do  it.  You  may  feel 
that  in  the  Years  of  the  City.   Perhaps  other  people 
did  too.  The  whole  scheme  of  the  thing  I  think  is 
very  good,  very  great,  really.  But  I'm  not  sure  that 
the  manipulation  of  it  works  out  all  right.  There 
are  some  good  things  in  it,  but  there  was  that  problem. 

And  as  I  went  along — you'll  notice  perhaps  after 
this,  of  course,  there  were  no  more  novels.  And  also— 
I  think  the  books  have  plenty  of  vigor  in  them,  but 


Stewart:  I  don't  quite  have  the  feeling  of  one  leading  Into 

the  other.   One  reason,  I  think,  is  I  had  a  definite 
feeling  I  was  getting  older.  That  had  a  curious 
effect  on  ne;  I  think  in  one  way,  that  my  years  are 
individually  much  more  valuable.  There  aren't  so 
many  of  them  to  waste.  So  I  want  to  feel  very  sure 
that  I  want  to  do  this  book.  It  made  me  a  little  more 
almost  hesitant  to  begin  writing  a  book,  although 
you  wouldn't  think  that  particularly  from  the  number 
of  titles  that  have  come  out  since,   [laughing] 

Well,  the  Gettysburg  business  was  something  that 
interested  me  for  a  long  time,  again.   I  had  played 
with  the  idea  way  back  in  1938  when  I  went  to  teach 
at  Duke.   I  stopped  off  at  Gettyburg,  and  spent  a  day 
wandering  around  there.  I  focused  on  Pickett's 
charge,  with  the  idea  of  doing  what  I  call  "micro- 
history."  That's  something  that's  not  been  done  very 

I  was  trying  to  get  all  the  Information  I  could 
possibly  get  on  that  small  bit  of  history.  Of  course, 
when  you  get  close  to  it,  it  doesn't  look  so  small, 
because  there  are  a  lot  of  men  Involved  in  it,  and 
all  that.  But  I  think  I  did  what  I  set  out  to  do  all 
right  there.   I  think  it's  a  good  book. 

I  had  something  like  ^00  testimonies  when  I  did 
that,  which  I  think  is  perfectly  amazing  when  you  think 
about  it.   To  think  there  were  4-00  different  people 
who  wrote — I  don't  mean  they  wrote  complete  stories 
of  the  charge,  but  there  were  ^00  people's  reports 
that  you  could  use,  to  bear  out  events  one  way  or 
another.   I  went  through  them  all,  and  tried  to  work 
out  what  really  happened.  Because  it's  amazing  when 
you  think  what's  in  the  books  about  that  charge,  and 
how  much  of  it's  wrong.  It's  absolutely  incredible. 
You  begin  to  think,  "Well,  if  the  whole  Civil  War  is 
as  bad  as  that,  we  don't  know  anything  about  it." 
And  you  begin  to  think,  "What  if  all  history's  as  bad 
as  that?" 

For  Instance,  I  more  or  less  started  out  with 
the  naive  idea,  "Well,  now,  I'll  get  a  good  account 
to  start  with,  and.  I'll  work  on  that."  Expand  it, 
you  see,  and  build  it  up  where  it  needs  to  be  built 
up.  But  where  could  I  get  a  good  account?  I  couldn't 
get  any  good  account  to  start  with  at  all.  There  was 




Stewart:  nothing  I  could  trust.  None  of  the  established 
histories.   It's  very  disconcerting. 

Take  a  thing  like  what  time  was  Pickett's  charge; 
you'd  think  that  would  be  a  simple  thing.  But  you 
have  any  number — oh,  I  forget  the  exact  figures,  but 
the  times  given  range  over  something  like  four  hours. 
It  seems  just  incredible.   I  finally  came  to  the  con 
clusion  that  the  time — what  are  you  talking  about, 
with  time?  Because  there  wasn't  any  standard  time 
involved.   I  think  the  watches  in  the  Confederate 
Army  were  twenty  minutes  off  the  watches  in  the  Union 
Army,  or  something  like  that,   [laughter]  And  then 
there  was  local  Gettysburg  time.  They  could  actually 
hear  the  town  hall  clock  ring  out,  on  the  battlefield, 
when  they  weren't  shooting.  You'd  think  that  would 
tie  it  up. 

I  finally  got — you  Just  couldn't  take  these  things 
and  average  them.  You  had  to  decide  who  would  know 
best.  Here  some  of  them  were  generals,  and  they 
wouldn't  agree  with  the  other  generals.  You  would 
think  they  would  know  a  thing  like  that.   I  finally 
did  the  best  I  could.  There  was  a  man  in  Gettysburg 
who  kept  a  running  account  of  the  battle  from  what  he 
could  hear,  and  I  went  by  him  finally,  because  he  knew 
when  the  bombardment  started.  He  noted  that. 

Riess:    Did  that  sort  of  thing  frustrate  you  or  were  you  Just 
finally  amused? 

Stewart:  Oh,  it's  fascinating.  It  isn't  frustrating,  no.   It's 

somewhere . 

You  know  that  there's  an  answer  in  there 

Another  thing  is  the  number  of  men  involved.  It's 
all  off.  It's  interesting  when  you  find  out  why  it's 
off.  Because  everybody  says  the  Confederates  advanced 
with  15,000  men.  I  know  where  they  got  that  figure, 
but  it's  all  wrong.  It's  what  Longstreet  says,  "That 
will  give  me  15,000  men."  Only  he  says  it  in  another 
connection.  What  he  really  said  was,  "If  we  do  this, 
I  will  have  15»000  men;"  then  they  did  something  quite 
different,   [laughing]  So,  the  figure  has  no  signifi 
cance  at  all.  Actually,  in  action  there  were  about 
10,500  men.   I  can  pretty  well  prove  it,  because  I've 
got  every  regiment  lined  up,  and  know  Just  about  how 
many  men  they  had,  and  I  can  prove  it.  Try  to  see 
how  much  difference  it  makes.  The  books  will  go  on 


Stewart:   saying  15,000.  This  "truth  crushed  to  earth  will 
rise  again,"  is  Just  absolutely  wrong!   Nothing  has 
the  vitality  of  a  well-told  lie.   [laughing] 

Riess:    I  would  think  this  incorrect  history  would  be 

Stewart:   It's  a  little  bit  irritating.  You  do  a  lot  of  good 
work  on  something,  and  you  find  nobody  paying  any 
attention  to  it,  keeping  on  in  the  same  old  ruts.   I 
did  the  same  thing  in  other  books  too.   In  The 
California  Trail «  I  took  up  the  question  of  cholera 
in  the  184-9  migration.  There  was  some  cholera,  no 
question  about  that.  Bancroft  estimates  5000  dead. 
That's  absolutely  ridiculous,  and  yet  I  came  across 
that  figure  in  a  new  book  Just  the  other  day.   I  had 
figured  out  there  might  have  been  250,  something  on 
that  order.  Again,  if  you  get  down  closely — really, 
if  there  had  been  5000  dead,  I  don't  think  the 
migration  would  have  continued.  Those  are  casualties 
you  Just  couldn't  stand.  Everybody  would  have  been 
losing  friends  and  family. 

Another  thing,  in  the  case  of  the  Donner  Party, 
was  the  question  where  Snyder  was  killed.  Everybody 
says  he  was  killed  at  Gravelly  Ford.  Gravelly  Ford's 
a  well-known  place.  And  I  can  tell  there  too,  how 
that  idea  originated,  and  it's  altogether  wrong.  He 
wasn't  killed  there  at  all.  He  couldn't  have  been, 
because  if  you  put  the  distance  they  were  traveling, 
and  so  forth,  and  the  date  he  was  killed,  one  thing 
and  another  together,  you  can  pinpoint  pretty  well 
where  he  was  killed,  about  four  or  five  day's  journey 
west  of  Gravelly  Ford.  Everybody  goes  on  the  same 

Hiess:    That's  interesting. 

For  Pi oket t  *  s  Charge  did  you  do  anything  like 
write  to  Saturday  Review  and  say,  "I  am  writing  a  book 
on  Pickett's  charge  — " 

Stewart:  No,  I  didn't  do  that.  Maybe  I  should  have.  Of  course, 
I  played  the  official  records  very  carefully.  You 

*See  "Truth  Crushed  to  Earth  at  Gravelly  Ford,  Nevada," 
Pacific  Spectator,  Winter,  1950,  IV,  i.  pp.  ^6-4-8. 


Stewart:  know  that  200-volume  set^  big  volumes,  the  records 
of  The  War  of  the  Rebellion?  That's  wonderful, 
because,  you  see,  they  collected  and  published  all 
these  reports,  and  they  wrote  reports  down  to  the 
grade  of  colonel,  and  for  most  of  the  branches  clear 
down  to  captain.  Lots  of  the  captains  In  the 
artillery  had  to  send  In  reports.  When  you  put  these 
all  together,  you  get  a  pretty  good  record.  Then 
there  are  the  big  things,  like  Haskell,  who  wrote 
this  long  account,  the  famous  account  of  Pickett's 
charge,  In  which  he  was  Involved  very  much.  The 
official  records  give  you  the  Confederate  accounts 
also,  although  some  of  them  are  destroyed.  Pickett's 
own  account  was  destroyed,  at  Lee's  request,  because 
he  thought  it  would  create  bad  morale  in  the  army. 
Apparently  Piokett  blamed  the  North  Carolina  troops. 
Pickett  wasn't  much  of  a  man. 

Then  there's  a  lot  of  miscellaneous  stuff.  The 
regimental  histories,  for  instance.  They've  published 
a  great  many  of  them.  Sometimes  they're  very  good  for 
Gettysburg,  particularly  the  history  of  the  13th 
Vermont.  They  only  fought  in  one  battle,  so  the 
historian  went  to  town  on  it  [laughing],  and  they 
happened  to  be  right  in  the  middle  of  Pickett's 
charge.  So  that's  wonderful.  And  then  I  went  back 
to  Gettysburg,  and  worked  in  Huntington  Library  also, 
and  got  a  great  deal  out  of  both  of  those  places. 
Huntington  Library  had  bought  the  big  Gettysburg 
collection  that  one  of  the  park  superintendents  had 
put  together. 

Back  at  the  park  itself  they  have  a  lot  of  news 
paper  accounts,  some  of  them  very  good,  which  I 
photographed.   I  set  up  my  own  camera  and  photographed 
the  stuff.   I  didn't  do  a  very  good  Job,  but  I  got  it 
so  I  could  read  it,  anyway.  That  turned  up  certain 
things  which  you  wouldn't  ever  expect.  Like  an  account 
of  Sergeant  Easley  of  one  of  the  Virginia  regiments 
who  went  over  the  wall  with  Arm! stead.   He  told,  all 
about  it  in  a  very  nice  fashion.   He  must  have  been 
a  wonderful  man.  And  you  can  get  all  sorts  of  things. 
It's  very  miscellaneous. 

The  most  remarkable  thing  of  all  is  the  trial, 
in  which  the  ?2nd  Pennsylvania  Veterans  Association 
brought  suit  against  somebody  or  other,  against  the 
National  Park  Service  I  guess,  about  where  the  monument 
should  stand.   This  was  years  later,  but  nonetheless 


Stewart:  you  got  marvelous,  marvelous,  testimony  on  what 
happened,  what  the  individual  men  went  through. 
Apparently  they  didn't  keep  the  laws  of  evidence 
very  carefully,  but  let  these  old.  fellows  talk,  about 
what  they  remembered  about  the  charge.   I  had  an 
awful  time  getting  hold  of  it,  but  I  finally  got  it. 

Riess:    Had  you  been  a  Civil  War  buff,  so  to  speak? 

Stewart:  Well,  to  some  extent,  I  suppose.  Right  now  they  send 
me  this  Civil  War  magazine,  because  I'm  on  the  board 
or  something.   I  do  read  it.   I've  read  a  good  deal. 
I  read  a  lot  of  the  old  generals'  memoirs  many  years 
ago.  They're  very  interesting. 

Riess:    Are  there  people  actually  working  on  straightening 
out  some  of  the  history? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  don't  know.  You  see,  most  of  them  work  on 
too  big  lumps,  some  way  or  other. 

Another  thing  I  discovered,  in  working  on 
Pickett's  Charge,  is  that  Pickett's  letters  are  a 
fabrication,  and  they're  quoted  all  the  time.  His 
wife  wrote  them.  He  was  supposed  to  have  written  them 
to  her,  but  I'm  sure  she  wrote  them  and  published  them. 

She  was  hard  up,  and  then  I  think  also,  it  was 
the  glory.  She  lived  on  being  Pickett's  widow,  she 
lived  almost  literally  on  it.  She  wrote  this 
sentimental  thing  called  Letters  of  a  Soldier,  which 
purported  to  be  written  by  Pickett,  during  the 
Gettysburg  campaign.  Some  of  them  were  supposed  to  be 
written  on  the  battlefield  waiting  for  the  order  to 
charge,  which  is  ridiculous,  because  he  wouldn't  have 
had  any  opportunity  to  write  these  sentimental  letters. 
And  they're  full  of  all  sorts  of  mistakes.  They  Just 
couldn't  be  Pickett's. 

There  are  a  few  of  Pickett's  letters  preserved, 
which  seem  to  be  genuine.  They're  entirely  different 
in  style  of  writing  and  everything.  That's  another 
reason  you  can  spot  the  difference. 

Riess:    Is  the  handwriting  the  same? 

Stewart:  We  don't  have  the  originals  of  any  of  them.  That's 

another  suspicious  feature.   If  she  had  these  letters, 
they  would  probably  be  preserved  somewhere. 


Stewart:       The  confusion  of  an  event  like  the  charge  Is 
something  that  you  Just  can't  realize.  The  troops 
were  all  mixed  up.  You  don't  know  where  they  were, 
and  nobody  ever  will  know,  I'm  sure.  I  came  across 
an  account  by  a  Virginia  captain  of  what  had  happened 
to  him,  and  I  said,  "Oh,  the  poor  guy.  He  really  got 
mixed  up."  [laughter]   "No  wonder,"  I  said.   "There 
was  a  lot  of  smoke  and  everything  and  he  didn't  know 
what  was  happening. " 

And  then  I  came  across  an  account  by  another 
Virginia  captain  who  told  the  same  story,  of  what 
had  happened  to  him.  They'd  been  in  the  same 
regiment,  and  they  got  isolated,  and  they  got  off  by 
themselves.  They  didn't  know  where  they  were.  They 
thought  they'd  won  the  battle.  They  couldn't  find 
any  Yankees  to  fight  any  more,   [laughter]  So  I 
finally  just  said,  "Well,  after  all,  the  two  of  them 
must  have  been  right."  I  Just  had  to  adjust  my  ideas 
to  what  they  said.   I  Just  worked  it  out  the  best  I 
could,  what  had  happened  to  them.  You  can't  be  too 
glib  yourself,  about  what's  going  to  be  right. 

Riess:    Putting  together  history  from  oral  histories — 

Stewart:  Well,  my  theory  on  this  oral  history  and  all  these 

events  recollected  so  long  afterwards,  is  that  they're 
pretty  good  for  vivid  details,  and  they're  very  little 
good  for  ordered  accounts,  what  came  after  what,  and 
when,  and  where,  and  all  those  things.  They're  not 
worth  much.   I've  gone  through  a  lot  of  them,  for  one 
book  or  another. 

I  notice  in  my  own  case,  when  I  don't  tell  about 
something,  when  it  sits  in  my  own  mind,  I  think  it 
remains  pretty  accurate.  As  soon  as  I  tell  about  it, 
what  I  remember  then  is  what  I  told,  not  what  the 
original  was.  What  I've  written  down  in  my  Autobi 
ography,  I  find  is  lost  now,  because  what  I  think  of 
it  is  what  I've  written  down. 

Riess:    But  the  autobiographical  stuff  you  haven't  written 

Stewart:  No,  I  hadn't  written  It,  but  I  say,  once  I  wrote  it 
down,  then  what  I  think  about  is  not  the  original 
experience  but  what  I  wrote,  the  words  I  wrote  it 
down  in  pretty  much. 


Stewart:       When  you  think  how  much  history  Is  dependent  upon 
the  memories  of  elderly  men,  who  were  interviewed  or 
wrote  things  down  years  later,  again  you  Just  throw 
up  your  hands.  What  possibility  do  we  have  of  these 
things  being  correct? 

Riess:    But  how  do  you  feel  when  you  throw  up  your  hands. 
That  this  isn't  important  anyway? 

Stewart:  Well,  I  think  it's  important  in  a  sense.  Yes. 
Riess:    Exact  history. 

Stewart:  Well,  if  it  isn't  exact,  it  isn't  history,  really. 
I'm  with  Harry  Truman.   I  think  these  things  are 

Riess:    What  does  Harry  Truman  say? 

Stewart:   Well,  the  reason  he  figured  he  was  a  good  president 

was  that  he'd  read  history.  He  was  a  great  reader  of 
history.  He  said  that  made  all  the  difference  in  the 
world.  And  he  was  one  of  the  greater  presidents. 
Little  man  from  Kansas  City. 

Riess:    I  should  think  it's  important  to  know  history,  to  have 
some  history. 

Stewart:  Well,  your  ideal  should  certainly  be  to  have  it  exact. 
When  it  gets  as  far  off  as  the  difference  between 
10,500  men  and  15,000,  that's  a  big  gap. 

Riess:    In  any  case,  researching  Pickett's  charge  was  something 
that  you  really  enjoyed. 

Stewart:  Yes,  that  was  done  with  great  enthusiasm.  I  had  a 

lot  of  fun.  And  the  micro-history  is  nice  to  work  on. 

Then  I  was  approached  to  do  this  book  on  the 
California  Trail.*  I  guess  I  said  something  about  that 
the  other  day.   McGraw-Hill  was  doing  this  series. 
The  only  book  I  ever  did  for  a  publisher,  but  it  was 
my  book  to  start  with,  anyway.   It  was  a  book  for  which 
I  had  the  background.  It  worked  out  very  well.   That 

*The  California  Trail,  1962,  The  American  Trails  Series, 
McGraw  Hill  Book  Co.,  Inc. 





Stewart : 

book  has  sold  quite  well.  Still  is  doing  very  nicely. 
It's  the  best-selling  book  in  that  whole  series.  Of 
course  that's  largely  because  it  deals  with  California, 
and  it's  a  good  book  for  a  Christmas  present. 

Your  inter-chapters  on  "how  they  did  it,"  "where  they 
went," — getting  the  oxen  around  corners,  had  anyone 
worked  that  out  before? 

No,  nobody  had  worked  that  out.  Nobody  had  worked 
out  much  about  the  covered  wagon,  Just  what  it  was 
like.   I  did  some  work  on  that.  That  chapter  on  the 
covered  wagon,  that  inter- chapter,  I  published 
originally  in  American  Heritage,  and  that  got  some 
award,  from  somebody  or  other.  I  was  going  to  go  back 
to  Oklahoma  City  in  a  tuxedo  to  get  the  medal  or 
something,  but  I  got  sick  and  I  didn't  go.   But  I  got 
the — whatever  it  was — some  kind  of  little  statuette. 

You  see,  the  trouble  with  that  subject  was,  it 
was  as  though  you  did  the  same  thing  every  year.   So 
the  way  I  got  out  of  that,  I  Just  told  "where  they 
went"  once,  you  see;  after  that,  I  worked  out  the 
varieties  of  where  they  went. 

Because  of  my  dislike  of  doing  a  book  in  a  series 
and  for  a  publisher,  I  might  never  have  done  this  book 
at  all  if  it  had  not  been  for  Howard  Cady,  whom  I  have 
mentioned  before.  He  happened  to  come  through  when  I 
was  mulling  the  thing  over,  and  he  said,  "Well,  George, 
you'd  better  do  it.  Otherwise  somebody  else  will  do 
it,  and  you  will  be  awfully  mad  at  what  he  did." 

I  had  actually  been  working  on  the  Trail  ever 
since  the  time  of  Ordeal  by  Hunger,  piecing  it  out 
here  and  there.  Of  course  other  people  had  been  working 
at  it  too,  and  there  had  been  quite  a  little  published 
in  the  interval.  Still,  the  actual  routes  and  the 
method  of  their  being  opened  up  was  not  well  known, 
and  I  had  a  fairly  free  hand. 

Joe  Backus  (the  graduate  student  with  whom  I 
collaborated  on  the  article  on  Faulkner),  went  with 
me  on  an  exploring  trip  over  the  Trail  to  see  some 
parts  I  had  not  seen  before.  We  went  as  far  east  as 
Scott's  Bluff,  Nebraska. 

This  book  was  a  very  pleasant  one  to  write, 
because  I  was  dealing  with  so  much  material  about 


Stewart:  which  I  had  had  a  great  deal  of  information  for  a 
long  time.  These  people  with  whom  I  was  dealing, 
for  instance,  were  often  men  and  women  with  whom  I 
had  been  acquainted  for  many  years.   I  had  a  problem 
with  the  Dormer  Party,  because  I  did  not  want  to 
write  that  story  again  at  length.  So  I  gave  a 
reference  to  Ordeal  by  Hunger,  and  a  very  short 
summary.   I  developed  a  considerable  admiration  for 
Joseph  Chiles,  and  I  at  first  intended  to  do  him  as 
one  of  the  men  in  Good  Lives.  There  were  difficulties, 
however,  in  getting  the  materials  free  to  work  on. 
So  I  shifted  to  Bidwell,  who  was,  I  think,  really,  a 
much  better  choice. 

I  have  been  particularly  pleased  with  the  way  I 
managed  to  handle  the  very  complicated  story  of  184-9 • 
That  is  plenty  big  enough  for  a  book  by  itself,  and 
it  has  at  least  one  book  on  it. 

I  have  seriously  considered  doing  another  book  on 
the  Trail,  or  at  least  on  the  process  of  getting  across 
that  part  of  the  world.  This  would  carry  the  story 
from  1859  to  1869,  with  the  completion  of  the  railroad. 
I  don't  think,  however,  that  I  will  ever  do  that  book. 
I  have  never  developed  quite  a  strong  enough  desire  to 
do  so.  The  publishers  are  interested  in  it  all  right. 

Riess:    You  mentioned  your  feeling  about  writing  beginning  to 
flag,  and  you  becoming  dubious.   It  seems  that  happens 
to  other  writers.  In  the  Paris  Review  interviews  I 
noted  people's  careers  stopped  in  some  cases  very 
early.  Do  you  think  it's  the  fiction  writer  who  has 
this  problem  particularly?  Do  poets  have  it  as  much? 

Stewart:  Poets  have  it  even  more.  Poets  are  characteristically 
young  men.   Fiction  writers  are  middle-aged  men.  A 
few  of  them  last  through  indefinitely,  but,  no,  I 
think  you'll  find  that's  true. 

There  are  a  lot  of  great  poets  that  are  very 
young,  that  died  young.  You  don't  find  novelists  like 
that,  very  many.  An  occasional  one  like  Stephen  Crane. 
It's  a  rare  novelist  who  does  much  before  the  age  of 
thirty.   Of  course,  that's  hardly  middle  age,  but  lots 
of  poets  are  finished  by  that  time. 

Riess:    And  then  what  time  was  it  that  you  would  say  you  were 








Well,  I  would  have  been  about  fifty-five, 
say,  however,  I  was  finished. 

I  wouldn't 

I  mean  In  terms  of  wanting  to  write  fiction.   Isn't 
that  what  you  were  saying?  I  felt  that  you  meant 
the  imagination  that  applies  to  fiction  and  doesn't 
apply  to  other  forms  of  writing. 

Well,  I  was  speaking  about  fiction,  yes.   I  think  one 
thing  I  can  Illustrate  this  with  is  that  you  have  a 
certain  bag  of  tricks  that  you're  born  with,  I  suppose. 
You  develop  it  to  some  extent  by  experience,  and  then 
you  start  writing,  and  you  use  up  those  ideas.  Then 
you  start  repeating  yourself,  or  something  like  that. 
I'm  not  interested  in  repeating  myself.  A  lot  of  people 
seem  to  be  able  to  do  it. 

One  thing  that's  always  fascinated  me  is  the  idea, 
in  modern  civilization,  if  you  disappear.  People  do 
every  day,  of  course.  What  mechanism  works?  How 
are  you  discovered?  How  is  it  discovered  that  you  are 
missing.   I  used  that  in  Storm,  you  see.  There's  an 
idea  which  I  had  in  mind  for  a  long  time.   I  didn't 
use  it  in  either  of  those  two  early  novels,  but  I  used 
it  in  Stormt  and  now  I  can't  go  and  use  it  again  very 
well.  That ' s  the  sort  of  thing  I  mean. 

Your  novels  are  all  so  well  planned, 
your  own  life? 

Did  you  plan 

No,  I  didn't.   I  suppose  it  might  have  been  a  good 
thing  if  I  had,  or  could  have.  But,  as  I  say,  I  was 
so  busy  with  two  or  three  novels  stacked  up  beyond 
there  that  I  hadn't  had  a  chance  to  write  yet,  that 
I  didn't  plan  any  farther  than  that.  There  are  people, 
of  course,  who  apparently  can  plan  a  great  long  series 
of  books,  like  Snow  for  instance,  and  Proust.  But  I 
don't  think  there  are  so  many  who  can  do  that. 

That  would  bore  me  to  death,  too.  I  don't  think 
I  could  possibly  do  a  whole  long  series  of  novels 
like  Snow.   I  want  to  do  something  different.   You 
would  get  so  sick  of  that,  I  think,  before  you  got 
through.   You'd  say,  "Why  did  I  ever  do  this?"  It 
would  be  like  Trollope,  who  up  and  killed  Mrs.  Prouty. 
He  suddenly  realized  he  was  through  with  her. 

Sometimes  one  reads  of  a  book  being  the  first  of  a 
trilogy,  and  then  the  rest  of  the  trilogy  doesn't  get 



Stewart:  Well,  that's  often  true.  You  take  C.3.  Forester,  who 
of  course  was  captured  by  Captain  Hornblower  and  had 
to  keep  on  writing  things  about  Hornblower  for  twenty 
or  thirty  years,  and  at  least  always  used  to  say  he 
hated  Hornblower.   I  don't  think  he  did  exactly.  He 
even  wrote  a  poem  about  It  once.  He  liked  to  write 
poetry.  He  wrote  this  ballade  about  Hornblower,  with 
the  refrain  line,  "Because  you've  been  my  friend  for 
twenty  years." 

But  he  started  to  write  another  series.  He  wrote 
the  first  book  called  Randall  and  the  River  of  Time. 
He  never  wrote  a  single  other  book  about  Randall.  He 
wasn't  very  successful,  I  guess,  and  Forester  said, 
"The  hell  with  it.   I'm  not  going  to...."  But  that 
was  planned  originally  as  a  big  series.   Captain 
Hornblower  kept  on. 

Riess  :  I  certainly  remember  him  in  the  Saturday  Evening  Post, 
and  I  don't  know  why  I  never  read  them. 

Stewart:  I  think  he's  mostly  a  man's  writer.  There  aren't  very 
many  of  them,  you  know.  But  he  was  certainly  popular. 
He  was  really  read  all  over  the  world. 

Riess:    In  asking  these  questions,  I  guess  I  am  making  the 

assumption  that  this  was  a  sad  moment  when  you  stopped 
writing  fiction. 

Stewart:   No,  it  wasn't.   I  didn't  come  to  it  that  way.   When  I 
finished  Years  of  the  City,  I  still  expected  to  write 
more  novels.  I  did  try  one,  a  little — it  wasn't 
exactly  a  novel.   Well,  it  was  too.   I  never  wrote  any 
of  it.  I  did  some  work  on  it.   It  was  too  much  like 
Earth  Abides,  and  I  said,  "I  don't  want  to  do  this. 
While  it's  a  good  story,  and  it  is  not  the  same  story 
as  Earth  Abides,  still  it's  much  the  same  situation 
involved  in  it."  So  I  didn't  write  that  one.  But  don't 
write  me  off  entirely.* 

Riess:    I  won't  write  you  off  entirely!   You  Just  have  such  a 
big  project  going  in  the  other  room. 

*Within  a  very  short  time  (about  two  weeks)  I  suddenly 
started  dictating  what  I  called  The  Shakespeare  Crisis. 
but  I  had  not  decided  to  do  so  at  this  time.   [G.S.] 

Stewart : 



Stewart : 

Yes,  I  do.  Maybe  that's  a  mistake, 
have  some  big  thing  to  work  on. 

But  It's  nice  to 



You  have  another  room  where  you  could  work  on  a  little 

I  might  take  It  up  sometime.  There  are  a  couple  of 
Ideas  I  have  in  mind,  but  this  Isn't  the  time  to  talk 
about  It,  really. 


Okay.  Going  through  your  works,  we're  up  to  Committee 
of  Vigilance,  and  Not  So  Rich,  and  Good  Lives. 

Well,  I  was  terribly  sick  of  course  right  In  the  middle 
of  writing  Pickett's  Charge.   I  almost  died.  And  I 
think  that  makes  a  difference  in  a  man,  too.  You  have 
a  feeling  you've  got  to  keep  the  chips  sort  of  picked 
up  a  bit.   I  got  over  that  all  right.  I  had  an 
operation  afterward.  A  very  serious  operation.   I  got 
over  that,  and  so  I  went  ahead  and  finished  Piokett's 
Charge . 

Then  I  had  the  California  Trail  stacked  up,  and 
that  was  quite  a  big  Job,  too.   I  had  a  lot  of  work 
to  do  on  that.  That,  much  more  than  the  Years  of  the 
City,  is  the  time  where  I  came  to  taking  stock,  again, 
you  see.  About  the  time  I  finished  the  California  Trail. 
I  knew  I  was  getting  old.  I  was  approaching  retirement. 
This  business  of  the  years  being  worth  more  as  you  go 
along  was  working  on  me  a  bit. 


I  did  begin  to  think,  "Well,  how  many  more  books 
am  I  going  to  do  here?" 

Did  you  have  thoughts  while  you  were  sick,  visionary 

Oh,  not  very  much.   I  began  to  wonder  if  there  was 
enough  of  Pickett's  Charge  done  so  it  could  be  published 
or  not,  and  I  decided  there  wasn't,  so  I  didn't  worry 
about  that.  Let's  see,  as  long  as  we've  got  this  book 
here  —  [looking  in  date  book]  —  oh,  these  years  in 
here  are  so  filled.  I  was  writing  in  lots  of  notes 
here  at  this  time.   California  Trail  was  1962.   Well, 
you  see,  I  was  Just  on  the  edge  of  retirement  then.   I 
guess  I  was  retired  before  that  book  came  out.  And  I 
was  already  working  on  Good  Lives  by  that  time. 


Stewart:       In  a  sense  Good  Lives  was  an  attempt  to  sum  up 
my  life,  I  suppose,  and  see  whether  I  had  been  able 
to  do  anything  that  way,  or  what  was  it  that  the  good 
life  was?  These  were  people  who  had  interested  me  for 
a  long  time,  all  of  them.  That  was  not  a  book  that 
had  great  commercial  possibilities.  It's  a  bad  kind 
of  book  to  do  in  many  respects,  because  it  means  a  lot 
of  work  for  each  man.  You  do  enough  work  on  one  man 
to  write  a  full  length  biography,  really,  and  then  all 
you  get  out  of  him  is  a  sixth  of  a  biography.  You 
never  should  advise  a  man  to  do  a  book  like  that. 

Riess:    You've  Just  been  saying  that  you  did  it  for  yourself, 
more  or  less,  it  seems. 

Stewart:  Yes.  I  did.  Yes.  So,  I  did  that  one.  That's  a  very 
satisfactory  book  to  have  done.  A  very  nice  book  to 
look  back  on  and  read  occasionally.   I  read  a  section 
of  it  every  now  and  then.  And  I  think  it  goes  all 
right.  I  tried  to  rescue  two  or  three  people  from 
oblivion  that  should  have  been  rescued.   I  don't  think 
I  succeeded  very  well  in  rescuing  them  from  oblivion, 
because  nobody  ever  reads  the  book,  but  there  they 
are,  anyway.  It's  nice  to  try  to  capture  a  person  in 
a  fairly  short  space. 

They  are  nice  people,  most  of  them,  though  I 
think  Schliemann  was  kind  of  a  stinker,  probably. 
There  again,  even  what  I  got  out  of  Schliemann  doesn't 
correspond  to  the  legend  at  all.  This  idea  of 
Schliemann,  the  facts  are  all  off  in  the  ordinary 
belief  about  him. 

Riess:    Who  is  the  legend  designed  by,  then? 

Stewart:  He  designed  it  for  himself.   It's  mostly  his  creation. 
As  far  as  I  know,  he  was  honest  in  his  archaeology, 
though  I  wondered  at  times.  But  he  was  not  honest  in 
his  writing  about  himself,  because  you  can  get  contem 
porary  letters  that  don't  coincide  at  all  with  his 
autobiography.  The  whole  thing  was  Just  wrong.  This 
business  about  making  money  and  rushing  down  to  dig 
up  Troy  is  all  wrong.  He  spent  about  fifteen  years 
Just  fooling  around,  and  he  had  lots  of  money  long 
before  he  ever  went  near  Troy.  Just  the  mere  dates 
show  that. 

I  had  to  try  to  work  out  what  he  was,  through 
that  legend.  He  was  a  very  lucky  man.   He  knew  it. 


Stewart:  He  admitted  it.  He  believed  in  that.  Luck's  a  very 
interesting  thing.  Did  we  take  that  up? 

Riess:    No,  we  didn't.  That  is.  an  interesting  thing. 

Stewart:   I  don't  know  anything  about  it!   [laughter]  But  I 
know  that  both  Schliemann,  and  Bidwell,  two  men  out 
of  six,  actually  talked  about  their  luck.  They 
believed  in  it.  And  they  both  are  very  remarkable 
men.  Bidwell  at  least  was  an  extremely  stable,  good 
man.  But  two  out  of  six  is  quite  a  good  ratio.   I 
don't  know  what  it  means. 

Riess:    Does  it  sound  like  it  means  fate? 

Stewart:  Well,  that  doesn't  help  you  any,  because  you  don't 
know  what  fate  is.  And  I'm  not  sure  that  I  believe 
in  it,  actually,  at  all.  I  might  use  the  phrase,  but 
I  think  I  have  a  pretty  careful  apology  for  it  in  that 
Autobiography.   I  say,  "This  Just  might  be  true,"  or 
something  of  that  sort,  but  I  don't  think  I  stick  my 
neck  out. 

Oh,  I  don't  know  about  these  things.  We  had  an 
interesting  talk  in  our  dinner  club  one  night.  There 
were  about  eight  or  ten  men  there.  The  conversation 
got  around  to  the  question  of  premonitions,  and  whether 
anybody  among  us  had  ever  had.  a  premonition.  We  went 
around  the  group,  and  several  people  talked  about  quite 
amazing  things  they'd  had  happen,  but  they'd  say,  "It 
wasn't  a  premonition,  it  was  Just  a  coincidence.   I 
wouldn't  say  that  I  had  a  premonition." 

Except  one  man.   What's  fascinating  about  this  is 
that  he's  a  Highland  Scot,  and  they  are  supposed  to 
have  second  sight,  you  know.  Also  this  ran  in  his 
family.  He  quoted  things  from  his  mother  and  grand 
mother.  He  had  had  two  premonitions,  which  he  could 
not  explain  any  other  way.  They  both  saved  his  life. 
That's  a  very  fascinating  thing.   I  don't  know  what  to 
make  of  that. 

Riess:    But  people  are  so  quick  to  disbelieve. 

Stewart:  Well,  I  think  they  should  be.   I  don't  believe  in 
premonitions  myself. 

Hiess:    I  read  your  interesting  report  in  one  of  the  cartons 
about  the  strange  happenings  in  your  house. 


Stewart : 

Stewart : 


Stewart : 


Oh,  the  poltergeist?  Yes,  that  was  un-nerving. 
[laughter]  The  thing  that  got  us  down,  we  were  looking 
for  things  to  happen. 

After  that,  you  mean. 

Yes.   It  was  un-nervlng.  But  I'm  the  last  person  in 
the  world  to  believe  in  that  sort  of  thing.   I'm  glad 
you  read  that.   I  was  going  to  mention  that. 

You  say  you're  the  last  person  in  the  world. 

Yes.   I'm  a  Lowland  Scot,  you  know.   They  don't  have 
it.   [laughing] 

What  is  the  dinner  club  you  mentioned? 

That's  a  group  that  was  formed  about  twenty-five  years 
ago.   I  haven't  been  in  it  quite  that  long.   It's 
Just  one  of  these  men's  clubs,  you  know,  you  get 
together  and  eat  dinner,  and  then  somebody  reads  a 
paper  and  you  talk  about  it  for  a  while,  and  you  talk 
about  a  few  other  things  for  a  while,  and  then  you  go 
home  for  the  next  month.   It  was  largely  formed  by 
lawyers.  Haynes,  who  was  dean  of  the  law  school  at 
Berkeley,  was  one  of  the  original  members — he's  been 
dead  for  a  long  time.  Ted  Meyer,  the  former  regent, 
is  in  it.   Several  other  lawyers.  Two  others  of  the 
men  are  from  the  University;  one  of  them  is  Charlie 
Camp,  and  the  other  is  Bill  Keeler,  who  was  in  the  Law 
School.  There  are  some  businessmen,  too.   It's  a 
very  nice  group.   I  am  in  three  of  those  things  now. 

[laughing]  One  of  the  ways  I'm  insuring  my 
future  here  is  that  these  will  keep  on.  As  you  get 
older  you  don't  have  any  more  friends  after  a  while, 
so  if  you  keep  on  with  something  that  is  continuing, 
that's  the  good  life,  you  see.  I'm  in  the  Cosmos  Club 
on  the  University  campus.  That's  a  very  nice  group, 
quite  a  large  group.  They  have  about  seventy  members, 
I  suppose,  and  those  are  men  that  I've  known  for 
years  and  years,  all  University  people. 

It  keeps  adding  new  members? 

Yes,  it  does,  although  they  are  mostly  older  people. 
There  are  not  many  that  are  really  young.   I  suppose 
they  are  nearly  all  full  professors.  And  recently, 
since  I  came  to  the  city,  I  was  asked  to  Join  this 


Stewart:   Chit-Chat  Club.   It*s  been  going  for  almost  a  hundred 
years,  which  is  pretty  remarkable.   It's  had  some 
famous  members  from  the  University.   It's  got  Joel 
Hildebrand  as  a  member  now,  and  Walter  Morris  Hart  was 
a  long-time  member.   It's  got  a  very  notable  group 
of  men  in  it,  really,  some  of  them  from  Stanford,  most 
of  them  from  San  Francisco.   I  haven't  been  in  that 
very  long,  Just  about  a  year. 

These  clubs  are  all  the  same  type.  They  represent- 
I  won't  say  the  non-intellectual,  but  the  man  who's  not 
in  an  intellectual  business — they  represent  his  attempt 
to  express  himself  intellectually,  and  I  think  it's 
very  good.  These  lawyers,  you  know,  they  certainly  use 
their  brains,  but  they  have  to  work  at  a  different  kind 
of  thing,  they  don't  get  any  kind  of  really  free 
Intellectual  work.   I  think  that's  what  these  groups 
represent,  more  than  the  social.  The  social  is  very 
pleasant  that  way,  but  it's  not  social  primarily,  as 
the  Bohemian  Club  is  for  instance.  In  the  Kosmos  Club 
you  hardly  ever  have  to  read  a  paper,  because  there 
are  so  many  people  in  it;  in  this  other  group  I'm  in 
there  are  only  about  eleven  or  twelve,  so  your  number 
comes  up  about  once  a  year. 

Riess:    What  have  some  of  your  papers  been? 

Stewart:  Well,  as  a  matter  of  fact  I  read  a  lot  of  selections 

out  of  my  books  as  they  came  along.  The  first  thing  I 
ever  read  was  the  article  on  names  which  I  published 
in  the  Encyclopedia  Britannioa.   I  read  stuff  out  of 
tne  Vigilante  book,  and  out  of  the  N.A.I,  Piokett's 
Charge •  practically  every  book  that  came  along  I  read 
a  selection  out  of.  It  was  pretty  easy  for  me,  after 
all.   I  didn't  have  to  get  involved  much  in  writing 
anything  special. 

Bless:    It  sounds  pleasant,  and  very  much  a  men's  thing. 

Stewart:  Yes,  it  is.   I  think  it's  a  characteristic  men's 

activity  in  this  country,  and  I  think  a  study  of  it 
would  be  fascinating,  a  sort  of  sociological  study. 
J.P.  Marquand  has  a  very  amusing  chapter  on  a  meeting 
of  a  men's  club  in  one  of  his  books,  and  it  sounds 
like  all  the  rest  of  them.   I  may  be  wrong,  but  I 
think  there  are  a  lot  of  them  scattered  around.  I 
think  you  would  find  one  in  every  university  in  the 
country,  and  probably  one  or  several  in  every  good- 
sized  city.  This  one  here  that's  been  going  on  for 



Stewart:   Just  about  a  hundred  years  is  remarkable.   Usually 

they  have  a  certain  life,  then  they  degenerate,  like 
a  city. 

Riess:    That  ijs  remarkable.   Do  they  have  a  history? 

Stewart:  The  Chit-Chat  Club  is  going  to  have  something  in 

relation  to  the  100th  anniversary,  which  is  coming  up. 

Riess:    Do  they  have  minutes? 

Stewart:   I  don't  know  how  much  they  have,  because  I'm  Just  a 

newcomer  in  that  club.  One  formerly  well-known  figure 
in  the  University  lost  the  minutes  of  the  Kosmos  Club 
and  was  persona  non  grata  ever  after.   Some  people 
take  these  things  very  seriously.  Even  this' little 
group  I  belong  to  has  saved  all  its  papers.  They've 
got  an  archivist.   Charlie  Camp  is  the  archivist;  he's 
a  natural  archivist.  I  guess  they've  got  a  couple  of 
hundred  pounds  of  papers  now,  I  would  say,  Just  in 
physical  mass.   They'll  probably  leave  it  to  the 
Bancroft  Library  someday. 

The  funniest  group  I  ever  belonged  to,  though,  was 
the  Armchair  Strategists.  We  used  to  meet  during  the 
war.  That  had  some  interesting  people  in  it,  Cecil 
Forester,  Joe  Jackson,  and  Charlie  Camp  were  in  that. 
I  organized  that  one.  We  used  to  meet  once  a  month, 
in  the  usual  fashion.   That  was  during  the  war,  you 
couldn't  do  much,  we'd  usually  get  a  little  beer  to 
drink,  or  something  like  that.   We  had  only  half  a 
dozen  in  that,  and  the  idea  of  this  was  to  indulge  in 
prophecy.   One  man  had  to  write  a  prophecy  each  month 
and  deposit  it,  prophesying  what  was  going  to  happen 
in  the  war  the  next  month.   Then  when  the  month  had 
rolled  away  we'd  have  the  meeting  and  we'd  read  the 
prophecy  and  see  what  happened,  and  we'd  have  a  lot  of 
discussion  on  war.   It  was  obviously  a  war  club,  and 
we  had  a  very  good  time  with  that.  And  it  was 
interesting,  the  thing  Just  died  out  after  the  war  was 
over.  We  didn't  make  any  effort  to  keep  it  going.* 

*We  started  with  six  members:  J.H.  Osmer  (Standard  Oil, 
a  Princeton  classmate).  C.D.  Brenner  (professor  of 
French),  Charlie  Camp  (professor  of  palaeontology, 
historian),  Joseph  Henry  Jackson  (book-editor,  S.F. 
Chronicle).  C.S.  Forester  (novelist),  G.R.S.  We  added 
later,  Reid  Rallton  (engineer),  Ronald  Walpole  (professor 
of  French).   [G.S.] 








Stewart  : 



Stewart : 

There  is  Stewart's  Law  about  clubs  and  organiza 
tions,  and  that  is  that  they  always  degenerate,  and 
the  reason  they  degenerate  is  that  they  started  out 
with  a  good  group,  you  see,  or  you  wouldn't  start  at 
all,  and  then  eventually  they  got  bores  in  them — 
somebody  wants  a  friend  in  and  this  friend's  a  bore, 
or  something  like  that,  or  disagreeable — and  eventually 
the  bores  take  over.  The  good  men  gradually  get  to 
doing  something  else  and  drop  out,  and  eventually 
there's  nothing  left  but  a  lot  of  bores,  and  they  can't 

stand  each  other,  and  so  the  thing  disappears, 


I  would  never  have  thought  of  you  having  yourself  so 
spread  out. 

Well,  I'm  spread  a  little  bit  more  now;  this  is  all 
in  the  latter  part  of  my  life,  really,  although  I 
belonged  to  two  others  of  these,  which  became  extinct, 
I  think  for  the  reasons  that  I  outlined  there.  But 
this  is  the  first  time  I  ever  started  doubling  or 
tripling  on  the  matter.   I  organized  two  of  these 
discussion  groups  when  I  was  president  of  the  Faculty 
Club,  but  neither  of  them  took  on  permanently.  I 
thought  there  was  a  chance  for  them;  they  both  started 
out  boldly,  but  neither  of  them  took  on,  for  some 
reason  or  other. 

We  have  often  spoken  of  old  age  as  a  topic  for  inter 
viewing,  and  I  have  a  hard  time  putting  together 
questions  for  you  about  it.   It's  almost  as  if  old  age 
is  unspeakable. 

It  isn't  at  all  for  me.  [laughing]  You  could  say 
"aging,"  that's  the  euphemism  for  it.  "Aging."  I 
really  laugh  at  that  one  around  here.  [The  Sequoias] 

Is  it  a  subject  that  is  talked  about,  for  instance  at 
your  clubs? 

No,  I  don't  think  it  is.   I  think  it's  shunned  generally, 
I  think  it  is,  and  I  think  that's  too  bad,  really, 
because  I  think  you  ought  to  be  able  to  play  old  age 
as  you  can  play  any  other  part  of  life.  There  ought 
to  be  some  way  you  can  handle  it,  things  you  can  do, 
things  you  can't. 

I'm  getting  along  very  well,  on  the  whole.  I 
think  it's  partly  that  I  have  looked  ahead.  I  don't 


Stewart:   think  you  can  ignore  the  years.   On  the  other  hand, 
you  shouldn't  give  in  to  them  either.   I  learned 
that  quite  a  while  ago,  because  there  were  several 
times  when  I  didn't  feel  well  for  some  reason  or 
other,  and  I  thought,  "Oh,  well,  I'm  getting  old." 
But  then  I'd  go  to  the  doctor  sooner  or  later,  and 
he'd  always  find  something  the  matter  with  me;  I 
wasn't  old  at  all.   [laughter]  There  was  really  some 
thing  the  matter  with  me.   So  that  taught  me  something. 
You  shouldn't  Just  say,  "Well,  I'm  getting  old,"  you 
should  do  something  about  it. 


Of  course  eventually  you  will  get  old.   I  did  go 
to  a  doctor  another  time.   I  had  a  neck  which  bothered 
me  because  I  couldn't  look  around  easily  to  see  whether 
a  car  was  coming  from  the  side  or  not,  dangerous.   I 
went  to  the  doctor,  and  told  him  about  it,  and  said, 
"Can  I  can  get  some  exercises  that  will  give  me  more 
play  in  my  neck?"  And  he  said,  "No,  you  can't.  You 
start  doing  that,  and  you  will  create  more  problems 
than  you  have.  You'll  throw  something  off  if  you 
start  taking  exercises,  so  all  you  can  do  is  Just  get 
old."  So  now  I  use  the  rear-view  mirror  more. 

Riess:    If  you  proposed  old-age  as  the  topic  of  conversation 
in  these  groups,  what  do  you  think  people's  feeling 
would  be. 

Stewart:  I  think  it  would  be  fine.   I  think  they'd  be  interested 
in  discussing  the  matter.  And  I  think  it  might  be  an 
interesting  thing  to  do.  There  is  very  little  writing 
about  old  age,  surprisingly  little,  and  there  aren't 
very  many  old  characters  in  works  of  literature,  really. 
King  Lear,  of  course,  but  he  doesn't  make  a  very  good 
case  for  it.   There  is  an  essay  by  Cicero,  which  I've 
never  read — Cicero  has  always  bored  me — but  I  will 
have  to  read  him  sometime  and.  see  what  he  says  about 
it.  So  there  isn't  much  to  turn  to. 

Of  course  the  situation  at  the  present  time  is 
a  somewhat  curious  one  because  there  are  too  many  old 
people.   That  is,  they've  become  too  common.   They've 
lost  their  rarity  value.  They  used  to  be  cherished, 
to  some  extent,  but  they  are  not  cherished  anymore. 
And  I  think  it  is  because  there  are  too  many  of  them. 
You  have  to  make  ninety  now  before  anybody  considers 
you  really  old,  which  is  good  in  a  way,  and  bad  in 
another  way. 



Stewart:       Did  you  see  the  write-up  of  Joel  Hildebrand  this 
morning?   [San  Francisco  Chronicle,  Oct.  26,  1971] 
I'm  swinging  a  birthday  party  for  Joel  at  the  Faculty 
Club  at  luncheon  on  his  birthday,  the  16th  of  November. 
I've  become  quite  a  swinger  of  parties  lately.  We're 
going  to  have  some  champagne — Just  a  moment's  pause 
in  a  busy  day.  Now,  he  *  s  a  remarkable  man.  He's  the 
one  who  never  really  has  grown  old.   Of  course  you 
can't  always  do  that.   He's  had  the  reliable  body 
combined  with  the  reliable  mind,  and  that's  not  too 
easy,  that's  luck  if  you  get  them  both  that  way. 

Riess:    Do  you  think  the  reason  it  is  not  talked  about  much 
is  that  it  would  mean  facing  unpleasant  things,  or 

Stewart:   I  think  it's  a  throw-back  from  a  fear  of  death.   I 

think  when  people  say  old  age,  then  the  next  thing  is 
death,  and  they  don't  like  to  talk  about  death,  and 
what  that  means,  and  I  think  old  age  gets  in  under  the 
same  heading.  Don't  you  think  that's  a  possibility? 
People  talk  about  their  complaints  a  lot;  they  talk 
about  all  their  diseases  and  operations  and  troubles, 
but  they  never  talk  about  that  in  relation  to  death. 

Riess:    Because  that's  life. 

Stewart:  And  yet  it's  also  death  in  many  instances,  because 
what  they  have  is  probably  going  to  kill  them 

I  think  that's  one  of  the  reasons  I  don't  mind 
being  here.   I  think  a  lot  of  people  think  this  [The 
Sequoias]  is  a  kind  of  a  stopping-station  on  the  way 
to  death,  but  then  so  is  every  place  else.  You  get 
to  be  my  age,  you  get  deaths  all  the  time.  It's  very 
disconcerting,  and  it's  disconcerting  also  in  thinking 
of  the  future,  because  you  get  more  and  more  lonely 
as  you  go  along. 

This  year  has  been  an  extremely  bad  year  for  us; 
we  lost  a  whole  group  of  people.  Not  family  and  not 
people  we  knew  very  intimately,  but  people  we've  known 
for  a  long  time.  It's  bound  to  happen.   It  won't 
always  be  as  bad  a  year  as  this — the  last  three  or 
four  months,  actually.  These  things  come  in  waves. 
You  can't  do  anything  about  it.   I  was  impressed  with 
Walter  Morris  Hart  in  that  respect,  whom  I  used  to  go 



Stewart:   see  occasionally  when  he  was  past  ninety.  And  he 
didn't  have  anybody  left,  you  know.  His  wife  was 
dead,  his  sister  was  dead,  and  his  friends  were  all 
dead,  and  he  had  had  no  children.   It  wasn't  that  Jig. 
had  changed;  he  had  Just  lived,  that's  all  he'd  done. 
And  nobody  was  left.   I've  been  very  fortunate  in 
some  respects.  Most  of  my  friends  are  younger  than 
I  am — not  really  young,  but  a  good  deal  younger  than 
I  am. 

Riess:    You  said  in  writing  about  Hart  in  the  department 
history  that  although  he  had  the  friends  and  the 
social  life  and  the  luxurious  existence,  that  "there 
was  no  center  to  it."  What  did  you  mean  by  that 

Stewart:  I  suppose  what  I  would  say  is  that  he  didn't  have  any 
dominating  passion  any  more,  that  old  phrase. 


INTERVIEW  VIII,  The  Shakespeare  Crisis;  influences 
of  California  and  the  West;  the  Bancroft  Library; 
oral  history;  literary  influences;  Not  So  Rich  as 
You  Think;  presses;  Ha  good  life";  the  Book. 
(Recorded  February  2,  1972) 

(continuing  a  conversation  about  George  Stewart's 
work  in  progress) 

Hiess:    When  you  can't  go  to  sleep  at  night,  because  you're  so 
preoccupied,  do  you  get  up  in  the  morning  and  write 
something  down  quickly? 

Stewart:  No,  I  don't.   I  figure  if  I  can't  remember  it,  it 

probably  isn't  worth  remembering.  I've  always  worked 
on  that  principle.  I  don't  think  I've  ever  lost  any 
thing  of  great  importance. 

I  had  an  invasion  of  the  library  last  night.* 
(This  is  right  in  your  line.)  A  bunch  of  rioters 
tried  to  get  in  and  destroy  the  card  catalog.  All 
the  catalogers  came  up  from  the  bowels  of  the  earth, 
and  fought  them  off.   I  had  a  wonderful  scene  going 
there.  I  think  I'll  use  that. 

Riess:    That  sounds  timely. 

Stewart:   Well,  not  exactly.  Things  have  been  pretty  quiet 

lately.  But  I  like  the  idea  of  the  catalogers  turning 
into  furies,  and  defending  their  sacred  realm. 

Riess:    I  think  I'll  get  into  my  odd  lot  of  questions.   They 
probably  are  not  "where  you're  at,"  as  the  expression 
goes,  at  all. 

*By  now  G.R.S.  was  dictating  The  Shakespeare  Crisis. 


Stewart:   Well,  I  can  probably  adjust. 

Riess:  Do  you  think  there  are  parallels  between  research, 
as  you  do  it  for  your  books,  and  the  excitement  of 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  think  so.  Very  strongly. 

Riess:    [laughing]  That  question  shouldn't  Just  end  there. 

Stewart:   You  should  say,  "In  what  way  do  you  think  so?"  Well, 
it  is  the  interest  of  discovery.   I  think  it's  pretty 
much  the  same  thing,  uncovering  certain  materials 
which  at  least  were  not  known  to  the  person  doing  them. 
It  may  not  be  original.   I  mean,  somebody  else  may 
have  known  these  things  before.  Still,  from  the  point 
of  view  of  the  person  doing  it,  it's  something  new. 
Some  of  those  things  that  I  have  discovered  in  working 
with  my  books  would  have  that  for  me,  the  same  as  an 
actual  research  problem  might  have. 

I've  got  some  examples  here  right  now.  I've 
been  doing  a  research  Job  on  the  organization  of  this 
retirement  home.   [The  Sequoias]  I  guess  I  told  you 
about  that.   Maybe  I  didn't. 

Riess:    You  said  you'd  been  going  into  the  financial  matters. 

Stewart:  Yes,  I've  gone  through  all  that.  That's  a  discovery, 
of  research. 

And  then  in  this  book  I've  been  working  on  now, 
the  novel,  I've  had  an  interesting  time,  because  I've 
made  a  few  discoveries  of  my  own  in  connection  with 
the  fact  that  Shakespeare  was  written  by  Marlowe. 
That's  the  way  the  book  starts  out,  you  know.  A  man 
working  on  that.  And  I  discovered  some  wonderful 
arguments  in  reading  the  Taming  of  the  Shrew,  which 
I  decided  was  the  key  work  for  this  Job.   Of  course, 
I  don't  believe  any  of  this,  but  this  is  Just  what 
would  be  a  nice  argument  if  you  were  believing  it. 

Riess:    But  I  was  speculating  that  discovery  through  library 
and  research  materials  was  the  only  kind  of  discovery 
that  was  possible  now  in  the  West. 

Stewart:  Well,  if  you  take  it  in  the  sense  of  the  older  West, 

that's  obviously  true.  Because  nobody  is  left  to  get  it 



Stewart : 


from  orally, 

There's  not  very  much  tradition  left 

Stewart : 


Stewart : 

What  if  you  really  had  trailbreaking  blood  in  your 
veins,  where  would  you  go,  if  you  really  were  an 

I  suppose  you'd  have  to  go  into  Outer  Space. 

If  you  settled  in  another  part  of  the  United  States, 
what  do  you  think  you  might  have  done  with — 

I  think  every  part  of  the  United  States  has  a  good  deal 
of  the  same  sort  of  thing  we  work  with  in  the  West.   If 
one  had  any  reason  why  he  was  bound  to  work  upon  local 
history,  I  think  he  could  get  pretty  good  material 
anywhere.   It's  still  a  fairly  open  field.  Take  any 
state,  and  I  think  you'd  find  something  of  that  sort. 

I  think  of  living  in  the  heart  of  New  York  City.  You 
can't  even  see  grass  and  have  that  sense  of  digging. 

Oh,  New  York  City  has  a  magnificent  background.  A 
good  deal  of  documentary  material  too.  There  are  all 
sorts  of  things  in  New  York  City  which  you  could  make 
use  of. 

You  know,  there  was  one  of  the  worst — I  can't 
say  exactly  witchcraft  scares,  but  it  was  the  same 
sort  of  thing — in  New  York  City.   It  was  a  place 
where  you  had  hysteria  and  they  hanged  a  lot  of  people. 
A  most  colorful,  horrible  story,  actually.  How  many 
people  know  about  that?  New  York  is  full  of  fascinating 
material.  And  you  can  still  see  the  same  locations. 
Of  course,  they're  all  covered  with  high  buildings, 
and  asphalt,  but  it's  there  Just  the  same.   The  whole 
line  of  Broadway,  you  know,  is  Just  the  old  road  that 
went  up  to  the  farms  in  the  north  of  the  island.  The 
very  street  pattern  of  New  York  is  interesting. 

Yes.   I  was  thinking  of  really  the  westward  expansion 
thing,  the  blue  Pacific,  and  more  the  environmental 

Well,  you  get  that  in  the  East  too,  very  much. 
But  would  one  still? 


Stewart:   I  think  so.  It's  not  exhausted.  The  idea  I've  had 

for  a  long  time,  that  I'll  never  do,  is  in  connection 
with  the  Leather-stocking  Tales.  Writing  the  back 
ground  of  that,  as  part  of  the  biography  of  Natty 
Bumppo.   Working  out  the  background — assuming  that 
Cooper  Just  tried  to  develop  a  fictional  story  about 
this  actual  man.  You  could  work  out  a  marvelous 
story  of  Natty  Bumppo. 

But  I've  never  been  in  that  area,  you  see,  except 
as  a  child,  and  if  I'd  lived  back  in  New  York  or 
Pennsylvania  I  could  have  done  that. 

Riess:    Yes,  I  think  you  could  have.  How  about  Seelye's 

comment,  that  he  thinks  you  believe,  as  he  does,  that 
"as  California  goes,  for  better  or  worse,  soon  enough 
will  go  the  nation. "* 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  think  so.   But  the  same  thing  could  be  said 

about  practically  any  state  in  the  Union,  [laughing] 
They're  all  going  to  go  to  hell  together. 

Riess:    I  see!   Okay.  You  know  what  I  was  getting  at  in  all 

these  questions,  and  you're  saying  it  isn't  true;  that 
there's  not  something  special  about  California. 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  think  I  was  saying  that.  Yes,  I  think  you  can 
get  it  anywhere.  What  is  it  that  Stevenson  said,  you 
know,  it's  a  marvelous  line  when  he  came  West:   "Not 
Troy  but  Homer  is  lacking."  That's  not  an  exact 
quotation  but  that's  the  idea  of  it.  The  story  was 
there,  but  nobody  had  written  it  yet. 

Riess:    How  did  your  involvement  with  the  Regional  Cultural 
History  Project  start?  You  were  on  a  committee  back 
in  1955- 

Stewart:  Well,  I  was,  way  back  before  that.   In  19^5  I  was 

chairman  of  the  library  committee  at  Berkeley,  and  I 
raised  the  question  then,  and  had  this  idea  we  should 
do  this.  Then  I  didn't  push  it  through.  The  library 
didn't  actually  do  anything.  But  I  guess  when  Jim 
Hart  was  chairman  of  the  library  committee  he  revived 

*John  Seelye,  "Placing  Names  and  Naming  Places,"  New 
Republic,  Feb.  13,  1971. 


Stewart:  this  Idea  of  oral  history.  So  In  that  sense  I  am  a 
father  or  grandfather  or  something  of  the  whole 
movement,  because  my  proposal  actually  preceded  the 
whole  activity  at  Columbia.   I  did  take  an  action,  and 
I  suppose  you'll  find  it  In  the  minutes  of  the  committee. 
I  know  Don  Coney  Investigated  once,  and  he  thought 
that  we  at  Berkeley  had  a  kind  of  priority  on  the 
basis  of  that  action. 

Really,  you  see,  my  Idea  was  a  kind  of  revival 
of  Bancroft.   Hubert  Howe  Bancroft  was  one  of  the  few 
people  in  history  who  created  his  documents.  And 
that's  what  we're  really  doing  here,  creating  our 
documents.  We  aren't  creating  history  but  we  are 
creating  a  record  of  it. 

Riess:    Actually  we  were  interested  in  putting  together  some 
of  the  history  of  the  Bancroft  Library.  Would  you 
have  some  comments  on  working  with  the  staff  and  the 
library  over  the  years? 

Stewart:   I  first  used  the  Bancroft  Library  in  1919-20  when  I 
was  working  on  my  master's  thesis.   I  had  discovered 
that  Stevenson  had  written  something  for  the  local 
Monterey  paper,  and  I  was  surprised  to  find  that  the 
Bancroft  had  a  file  of  that  paper.  I  remember  that 
Professor  Bolton  himself  told  me  so.   I  don't  know  why 
he  was  concerned  with  it,  except  that  I  was  taking  a 
course  with  him,  and  probably  I  asked  him  or  commented 
about  it.  That  was  the  first  discovery  of  this  kind 
I  ever  made,  and  I  was  delighted  to  demonstrate  the 
authorship  of  the  article,  even  though  it  was  not 
signed,  by  work  on  internal  evidence.  It  was  the 
article  with  the  title  "San  Carlos  Day,"  which  I 
re-published  in  the  Scribner's  magazine.  Although  I 
had  sold  a  few  humorous  verses  to  magazines,  this  was 
the  first  what  you  might  call  serious  publication  that 
I  did  in  a  professional  way. 

The  Bancroft  at  that  time  was  where  the  map  room 
now  is.   I  came  back  to  the  campus  in  1923  and  immediately 
started  working  on  that  big  cultural  history  of 
California  of  which  I  have  already  spoken  here  some 
where.   I  used  the  Bancroft  a  great  deal  from  that  time 
on  for  several  years.  By  1923  it  had  moved  to  the 
fourth  floor  of  the  library,  and  Priestley  had  taken 
over  as  director,  although  Bolton  was  still  very  much 
in  evidence.   I  always  had  extremely  pleasant  relation 
ships  with  both  of  them.   Other  old-time  members  of  the 


Stewart:   staff,  with  whom  I  was  friendly,  were  Hill,  Eleanor 
Bancroft,  and  Edna  Martin,  who  has  been  Mrs.  Parrott 
for  a  long  time.   I  continued  working  a  good  deal  at 
the  Bancroft  for  a  number  of  years,  while  I  was  working 
on  Bret  Harte.  Phoenix,  and  Ordeal  by  Hunger.   I  even 
used,  the  Bancroft  a  good  deal  in  connection  with  East 
of  the  Giants.  After  that  my  connection  with  the 
library  became  spotty.   In  writing  my  novels,  except 
for  Sheep  Rock,  I  was  not  very  much  in  the  field  of 
the  Bancroft,  and  there  would  be  months  when  I  was  not 
near  the  place.   But  I  found  myself  always  coming 
back  for  something  or  other,  as  when  I  worked  on  The 
Opening  of  the  California  Trail.   (Prom  my  bibliography 
you  can  spot  Just  about  when  I  would  have  been  working 
there . ) 

I  also  had  other  connections  with  the  library. 
I  was  on  several  committees  that  dealt  with  it, 
including  the  one  that  recommended  George  Hammond  for 

One  of  these  committees  turned  out  to  be  rather 
crucial  for  the  library.  The  professors  who  were 
interested  in  Latin-American  affairs  wanted  to  extend 
the  field  of  the  Bancroft  to  cover  all  of  Latin 
America.   On  the  other  hand,  others  of  us  felt  that 
this  would  be  a  dilution,  and  would  not  allow  the 
Bancroft  to  be  good  in  its  field.  This  turned  into  a 
very  hot  argument  for  several  months,  but  in  the  end, 
and  I  think  wisely,  the  field  was  not  extended. 

I  was  also  on  a  committee  which  dealt  with  the 
Oral  History  Project  in  Its  early  stages.  As  for  the 
Friends  of  the  Bancroft  Library,  I  was  at  the  original 
luncheon  where  it  or  they  were  started.  As  I  seem  to 
remember,  Francis  Farquhar  had  a  little  money  from  the 
Bender  estate  which  he  put  into  getting  the  thing  going. 
I  was  not  a  member  of  the  Friends  of  the  Library, 
however,  for  a  long  time,  because  I  felt  that  it  was 
not  really  an  organization  which  included  professors. 
I  Joined  it  finally,  and  I  have  served  two  terms  on 
the  Council. 

My  active  participation  in  the  library  now  is 
confined  to  binding  books  one  hour  and  a  half  a  week 
with  Harry  Roberts.   I  also  bring  some  of  the  not-too- 
valuable  books  home  with  me  and  repair  them  in  my 
bindery  here. 




Stewart:       As  you  should  be  able  to  see  from  this  account, 
my  relationship  with  the  Bancroft  over  many  years 
has  been  a  very  happy  one.   I  am  unlikely,  now,  to 
take  up  a  topic  of  research  which  will  lead  me  to 
spend  much  time  in  the  Bancroft.  I  have,  however, 
said  Just  about  that  several  other  times,  and  have 
always  ended  by  coming  back  on  some  subject.   So, 
possibly,  it  may  happen  again. 

By  the  way,  I  had  an  interesting  comment  about 
this  oral  history  project,  which  I  think  I  should  get 
down  somewhere,  from  Bwald  Grether.   (He's  a  retired 
dean  of  business  administration.  )  He  had  read  the 
record  of  Ira  Cross,  in  economics,  past  ninety  years 
old.  Grether  said,  "what's  the  use  of  all  this  stuff, 
anyway,  because  there  are  so  many  errors  in  Ira's 
record  that  there's  no  use  having  it?"  I  pointed  out 
to  him  that  that  in  a  sense  is  what's  important. 
Getting  the  opinions.  Nobody  in  his  right  mind  will 
take  these  things  as  factual  records  of  history,  unless 
he's  Just  forced,  with  nothing  else  to  work  on.  Because 
anybody  knows  that  reminiscences  taken  thirty  or  forty 
years  after  the  event  are  not  really  trustworthy.  What 
they  are  useful  for,  Is  to  give  attitudes,  and  things 
that  never  get  into  the  record.  A  documentary  record 
of  times  and  places  Just  isn't  very  good.  You  certainly 
want  to  be  as  correct  as  you  can,  but  I  don't  think 
that's  the  criterion.  Particularly  in  a  man  like  Ira 
Cross,  who  is  a  man  of  quite  violent  opinions. 

Riess:    Sometimes  the  interviewer  ends  up  being  the  historian. 

Stewart:  Well,  it  depends  of  course  what  kind  of  life  the 

person  being  interviewed  has  lived,  what  his  contribu 
tion  to  the  world  has  been,  naturally. 

Riess:    Whether  it's  their  attitudes  that  are  going  to  be 
important  — 

Stewart:   Or  Just  what  they're  going  to  say  and.  what's  important 
in  their  lives.   I  don't  think  it  should  be  the  second 
time  recording  of  stuff  which  is  already  in  the  record. 
I  think  that's  Just  a  waste  of  time.  The  original 
record  is  much  more  complete. 

Riess:    Very  often  it's,  "Why  did  you  vote  for  something-or-other 

Stewart:   That's  all  right,  because  that's  probably  not  in  the 


Riess:    But  your  1970  attitude  may  be  different  about  It 

Stewart:  Oh  yes,  Indeed. 

Riess:    I  have  dipped  into  the  question  with  you  of  what 
books  were  favorites,  what  books  were  influences. 
You  didn't  really  indulge  me  very  much  in  that.   I 
thought  I'd  try  again;  maybe  a  way  of  looking  at  it 
would  be,  what  books  did  you  Insist  that  your  children 

Stewart:  I  didn't  push  my  children  around  very  much  that  way. 
My  daughter  read  a  good  deal.  My  son  didn't  read  at 
all,  until  he  got  to  college.  He  didn't  read  much 
then.  He  never  has  been  a  great  reader.  I  couldn't 
push  him  at  all.   I  don't  know  that  I  gave  my  daughter 
enough  direction,  but  she  was  a  reader,  and  she  chose 
a  good  deal  on  herself.  I  didn't  worry  about  what  she 
was  doing. 

I  find  it  difficult  to  answer  a  question  like 
that,  because  of  course  I  have  read  so  tremendously. 
Naturally,  it  was  my  profession.  And  since  I  was  a 
reader  anyway,  to  try  to  pick  out  what  books  have 
influenced  me  is  difficult,  because  of  the  tremendous 

Riess:    I  thought  if  I  just  asked  you  enough  times,  all  of  a 
sudden  some  books  would  just  pop  to  the  top. 

Stewart:   I  did  answer  to  some  extent  didn't  I? 

Riess:    Yes,  you  named  Herodotus  and  older  histories,  and 




said  that  you  liked,  certain  kinds  of  current  histories, 
like  the  Titanic,* 

Stewart:  Yes.  Yes.  That's  partly  technical  interest  in  the 
way  it's  done.  I  mentioned  Hardy's  Dynasts,  didn't 

No,  but  Jim  Hart  did. 

Stewart:  Well,  actually  I  think  that's  mentioned  in  that 
introduction  to  Storm  that  I  wrote  for  Modern 

I  haven't  read  it  for  years,  but  it  has  an 
influence  on  Storm.  And  of  course  the  King  James 
Bible  has  had  a  tremendous  influence  on  me.  Tremendous, 
Even  in  this  present  novel  I'm  working  on  now,  I 
suddenly  found  myself  talking  about  somebody  walking 
up  and  down  and  I  realize  that's  out  of  the  Book  of 
Job.   It's  what  Satan  does,  you  see.  The  Lord  asks 
him  what  he's  been  doing,  and  he  says  that  he's  been 
walking  "to  and  fro  in  the  earth."  [laughing]  Then 
I  realized  this  character  I've  been  working  with  was 
a  Satanic  character.  That's  quite  an  interesting 
psychological  point  there.  And  I  found  him  later  on, 
having  made  an  agreement  with  somebody,  he  says,  "Of 
course  it  isn't  necessary  to  sign  this  in  blood."  That 
isn't  out  of  the  Bible,  but  that's  the  tradition  of 
Satan  anyway. 

Shakespeare  has  had  a  good  deal  of  influence  on 
me,  for  instance,  in  Fire.  A  friend  of  mind,  a 
Shakespearean  authority  (Bert  Evans,  who  retired 
recently)  said,  "Well,  you've  got  a  whole  series  of 

*  I  would  start  with  Herodotus,  I  think.   I  really  like 
Herodotus.  He  had  real  charm. ..I  like  these  modern 
things,  like  Lord,  you  know.  His  one  on  the  Titanic 
and  the  one  on  Midway,  and  books  of  that  sortT That's 
a  kind  of  genre  which  has  grown  up  in  the  last  twenty- 
five  years  or  so,  to  which  I  have  contributed  myself 
to  some  extent.  But  I  like  that  kind  of  story.  And 

ve  read  practically  everything  that  was  ever  written 
>n  the  Battle  of  the  Bulge,  among  other  things.  That's 
an  Interesting,  complicated  story,  an  ecological  unit 
in  itself,  with  everything  tying  in  together."  G.S.— 
earlier  interview. 


Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Stewart : 


things  out  of  Shakespeare  In  that  book."  I  couldn't 
think  of  anything  very  much.  He  couldn't  pinpoint  it, 
but  he  is  a  man  who  knows  his  Shakespeare  very  well, 
and  he  said  there  was  a  whole  series.  The  only  thing 
he  mentioned  was  the  fact  that  the  fire  boss  goes 
around  and  visits  the  camps  after  dark.  He  said, 
That's  right  out  of  Henry  V. "  [laughing]  But  I  think 
that's  carrying  the  influences  too  far.  I  said,  "Oh, 
that's  crazy.  That's  Just  what  any  good  fire  boss 
would  do." 

So  it's  not  an  influence  of  style,  it's  an  influence 
of  material? 

I  think  more  influence  of  material.  There's  a  good 
deal  of  Shakespeare  in  a  good  many  of  my  books.  This 
one  I'm  working  on  now  is  really  tied  up  with 
Shakespeare  very  much. 

I  spoke  of  Kipling  didn't  I? 
a  child. 

And  G.A.  Henty,  as 

You  spoke  of  him,  and  I  wondered  whether  that  was  Just 
a  childhood  influence. 

Well,  I  don't  think  you  ever  get  over  your  childhood 
influences,  do  you? 

I  hope  I've  gotten  over  the  Bobbsey  Twins,   [laughing] 

I  rejected  Horatio  Alger.  I  noticed  in  Newsweek  he's 
Just  been  shown  to  be  a  homosexual,  so  I  used  good 
Judgement,   [laughter]  There's  a  lot  of  interest  in 
boys  that  run  through  his  novels,  that  has  apparently 
a  double  sense  to  it.  Anyway  I  never  got  interested 
in  him  very  much,  compared  with  Henty. 

You  take  other  things.  As  I  say,  I've  read  too 
many  things.  I  pick  up  something  here  probably, 
something  there  probably,  but  if  you  take  people — 
Dickens,  for  instance — Dickens  never  had  much  influence 
on  me.   I've  read  nearly  all  of  Dickens,  some  of  it 
two  or  three  times,  but  I  don't  think  it's  had  any 
serious  influence  on  me. 

The  contemporary  poet  that  had  the  most  influence 
upon  me  is  Archibald  MacLeish,  who  fascinates  me.   I 
don't  think  you'd  probably  find  very  much  direct 




Stewart:   influence  on  my  writing,  but  there's  something  about 
his  style  which  may  have  influenced  me  a  good  deal. 

files s:    What  was  it  about  The  Dynasts? 

Stewart:  I  think  it  was  in  the  first  place  the  idea  of  with 
drawing  into  the  sky,  seeing  things  in  the  big  sense, 
which  I  used  in  the  opening  of  Ordeal  by  Hunger.   I 
actually  referred  to  Hardy  at  that  point,  but  somebody 
told  me  that's  foolish  to  do  that.   I  think  he  was 
right,  so  I  out  it  out.  That  influence  is  also  very 
strongly  evidenced  in  Storm.  I  think  spread  over  that, 
to  show  not  only  that  you  could  take  in  vast  amounts 
of  space,  but  also  that  you  could  take  in  vast  amounts 
of  time,  if  you  tried.  Space  and  time  are  infinitely 
expandable  and  contract able. 

Rless:    What  was  Hardy's  attitude  when  he  did  it? 

Stewart:  Well,  I'm  hardly  ready  to  pass  an  examination  on 
Hardy  because  I  haven't  read  The  Dynasts  recently 
enough.  But  he's  dealing  with  the  Napoleonic  campaigns, 
and  he'll  describe  the  whole  army,  you'll  see  the  whole 
army  on  the  march  along  the  road.  He's  drawing  far 
enough  away  so  that  he  sees  the  whole  thing  at  one 

Riess:    But  this  was  a  play,  wasn't  it? 

Stewart:   It  was  a  theoretical  play.  It  was  never  enacted  as 

a  play.  There  are  lots  of  things  that  would  be  quite 
impossible  to  represent  on  the  stage.   I  must  read 
that  again,  as  a  matter  of  fact.   It's  a  book  which 
has  not  held  its  place.  It  isn't  read  much  any  more, 
I  don't  think. 

It's  funny,  you  see,  when  I  wrote  that  passage 
in  Ordeal  by  Hunger,  back  in  the  middle  thirties, 
nobody  had  ever  done  that.  Now,  of  course,  being  up 
two  or  three  hundred  miles  in  the  air  is  quite 
commonplace.  That's  an  interesting  point. 

Riess:    Yes,  how  could  you  have  known  what  it  was  like? 

Stewart:  I  didn't.  I'm  not  sure  I  was  right,  but  it  was  a  good 
literary  device,  to  describe  the  whole  trail,  you  see. 
To  see  it  as  the  only  mark  upon  the  land  at  that  time. 



Riess:    Are  there  any  books  of  your  own  that  you  wish  you 
hadn't  written? 

Stewart:  Well,  not  exactly.  There  are  some  books  which  were 
hardly  worth  while  writing.   I  mean  they  haven't 
circulated  enough  to  be  of  any  Interest  to  people 
much.  I  don't  think  there's  any  book  I  wish  I  hadn't 
written  in  the  sense  that  I  think  it's  a  bad  book, 
that  it's  a  vicious  book,  or  anything  like  that. 

Rless:    Or  that  you  wish  no  one  would  associate  with  your 

Stewart:  No,  no,  some  of  the  books  that  are  read  least  I 

appreciate  very  much  when  somebody  does  read  them. 
Every  now  and  then  somebody  does  and  likes  one  of 
those  books  very  much,  which  is  nice. 

Riess:    Some  people — me — when  they  see  their  writing,  or  hear 
it  read  aloud,  experience  great  distress,  sort  of 
mal  de  mer.  Do  you  know  that  feeling? 

Stewart:  Well,  no,  I'm  usually  pleased  with  my  books  when  I 
reread  them.  I  don't  often  hear  anybody  read  them 

Riess:    Can  you  remember  when  you  were  Just  starting? 

Stewart:  No,  no,  I  really  can't.   I  read  a  lot  of  my  Bret  Harte 
book  here  the  other  night.  I  had  some  reason  to  get 
started  reading  it.  And  that  was  the  first  real  book 
I  did  and  I  thought  that  went  all  right. 

Riess:    How  about  reading  old  letters? 

Stewart:   Oh,  they  are  terrible.   I  never  was  a  letter-writer. 
I  would  probably  be  very  embarrassed  at  some  of  them. 
But  that's  a  little  different.  And  I'm  going  to  have 
to  reread  a  lot.   I've  got  a  whole  stack  of  postcards 
that  I  sent  back  to  my  father  and  mother  when  I  was 
bicycling  over  Europe.  More  or  less  to  keep  a  record, 
I  usually  wrote  them  a  postcard  every  day.  And  they 
kept  them,  so  I  have  a  pretty  good  record  of  the  whole 
trip.  I'll  have  to  take  a  look  at  them  sometime.  I 
don't  have  very  many  letters  that  I  wrote,  I'm  happy 
to  say. 

Riess:    Of  course  postcards  are  an  exercise  in  condensation. 




Stewart : 

Stewart : 



Stewart ; 

Yes,  they  don't  say  very  much,  but  you  can  send  back 
a  picture  of  something  you  saw,  and  that's  a  record 
in  itself. 

Do  you  have  any  old  poetry  that  you  wish  you  hadn't 

No,  I  don't  know  whether  I  have  a  file  of  poetry  of 
mine  anymore.  I  had,  for  a  long  time,  some  poems. 
I  don't  think  there  was  anything  I  would  be  really 
ashamed  of  now. 

Oh,  not  shame.   I  was  thinking  that  this  feeling  might 
be  the  difference  between  the  way  the  professional 
relates  to  what  he's  written,  and  the  amateur. 

Well,  I  was  really  surprised  at  that  Bret  Harte  book. 
As  I  say,  I  read  maybe  75  pages  of  it,  and  it  was  all 
right.   I  don't  know  how  I  learned  to  do  it  that  well 
that  soon.   I  remember  somebody  saying  at  the  time, 
somebody  I  didn't  know  at  all,  who  had  read  the  book, 
saying,  that  I  was  a  man  to  watch.  And  that  intrigued 
me  very  much — of  course  it  pleased  me  very  much.  How 
she  had  that  insight,  I  don't  know.  Maybe  it  was 
better  written  than  most  books.  It  isn't  perfectly 
written;  I  mean,  I  would,  change  certain  things  about 
it  if  I  did  it  today.  But  it  wouldn't  necessarily  be 
right,  of  course.  That's  another  thing  you  have  to 
remember.  Sometimes  you're  better  when  you're  young 
than  when  you're  old,  although  you  always  think  you're 
better  when  you're  old. 

What  if  East  of  the  Giants  had  been  your  first  book? 
Do  you  think  it  might  have  been  a  more  difficult  first 
book,  and  the  one  that  might  have  shown  the  novice? 

I  don't  know  exactly  how  to  answer.  That  in  a  sense 
was  a  documentary  book,  too,  because  it  was  written 
against  the  background  of  that  time,  the  way  a  person 
of  that  character  would  have  reacted  to  the  situation 
at  that  time.  That's  a  thoroughly  objective  book, 
and  of  course  I  think  it  was  a  very  good  idea  to  make 
it  about  a  woman,  because  that  makes  you  get  out  of 
your  own  personality. 

Riess:    So  you  never  did  the  traditional  first  novel,  about 
one's  own  life  experiences. 



Stewart:  No.  There's  a  lot  of  my  life  tied  up  in  various  of 
those  books,  but  there's  nothing  definitely  auto 
biographical.   I  suppose  Ish  in  Earth  Abides  is  the 
most  autobiographical  character.   I  think  there's 
a  good  deal  of  autobiographical  reference  there.   I 
used  it  more  or  less  consciously.   I  mean,  "How 
would  I  react  to  something  like  that?" 

Riess:    You  would  have  enjoyed  the  opportunity  to  start  the 
world  over  again. 

Stewart:   Oh,  probably.  That's  a  very  common  fantasy.   I  wasn't 
thinking  of  that  so  much,  though,  as  I  was  thinking 
of  the  way  he  goes  about  things,  and  a  certain  sense 
of  his  own  incapacities  which  I  think  is  pretty  common. 
A  lot  of  people  have  that  feeling. 

Riess:    How  about  in  your  current  book?  Are  you  there? 

Stewart:   I  have  one  character  in  this  book  who  has  some 

qualities  of  mine.  I  wouldn't  say  he  was  particularly 
autobiographical.   In  fact  I'm  actually  thinking  of 
another  man  I  once  knew  very  much  in  this  character, 
although  he  isn't  too  much  like  that  man  either.  My 
characters  get  worked  out;  they're  all  sorts  of 
different  people  strung  together. 

Riess:    To  complete  our  running  account  of  your  books,  we  need 
to  talk  about  Not  So  Rich. 

Stewart:  That  was  a  book  where  I  Jumped  the  gun.   I  came  out 

with  that  before  people  were  really  interested  in  the 
subject.  The  book,  in  a  sense,  misfired,  because 
people  were  not  much  interested  in  the  topic  yet.   If 
it  had  come  out  about  two  years  later  I'd  have  done 
Just  fine.   But  that's  one  of  the  disadvantages  of 
being  ahead  of  your  time.   I  think  I  said  in  the 
introduction  to  that  book,  or  somewhere,  that  it  worked 
out  of  the  influence  of  two  people,  both  of  them 
engineers.   One  was  Professor  Boelter  at  UCLA,  who 
wrote  me  a  letter  and  gave  me  a  suggestion  about  doing 
it.  The  other  was  George  Maslach,  who's  the  dean  of 
the  College  of  Engineering  at  Berkeley,  who  definitely 
suggested  that  I  do  that  book,  and  gave  me  the  very 
important  document,  the  report  of  the  commission  on 
which  he's  worked  for  the  President,  which  was  my 
chief  source  book,  and  which  was  new  at  that  time,  and 
a  very  valuable  piece  of  work.  And  of  course  it's 


-    .    . 



Stewart : 


Stewart : 



Stewart : 

HI ess: 
Stewart : 

Stewart : 

been  a  thing  I've  been  Interested  In  for  a  long  time, 
and  I  apparently  saw  the  crisis  a  little  bit  ahead  of 
other  people  In  general. 

These  men  thought  that  a  book  such  as  this  would  stir 
the  public. 

Yes,  I  think  so,  and  of  course  It  did  to  some  extent. 
I  can  remember  one  reference  to  it  by  a  reviewer  who 
said  it  was  minor  muckraking,  which  it  seems  to  me 
is  an  amazing  thing  that  couldn't  possibly  be  said  a 
year  or  two  later. 

Since  then  how  involved  have  you  been  in  the  ecology 
movement  and  issues? 

I  really  haven't  been  very  much.   I  send  a  little  bit 
of  money  to  a  lot  of  these  things,  you  know,  but  I'm 
not  really  a  man  who  works  with  committees  and.  movements 
and  that  sort  of  thing.   I  don't  get  into  that  very 

You  say  that  book  was  two  years  too  early, 
you  think  finally  rouses  people? 

What  do 

Oh,  I  don't  know  in  that  particular  case.   Of  course, 
things  were  getting  worse  and  worse  and  they  did 
arrive  at  the — well,  you  can't  say  crisis,  because 
we  may  not  be  at  the  crisis  yet — but  they  got  to  the 
point  where  people  became  interested.  And  then  it  got 
to  be  an  emotional  campaign,  particularly  among  the 
young.  And  it's  a  very  good  thing  too.  But  I  can't 
say  Just  what  caused  it. 

How  about  population  control? 
you've  thought  about? 

Has  that  been  something 

I've  been  very  much  interested  in  that  for  many  years, 
too,  yes. 

Have  you  ever  thought  of  doing  any  writing  about  It? 

Not  seriously.   It's  a.  pretty  technical  problem,  and 
there  has  been  a  good  deal  written  about  it. 

I  mean  in  your  special  fictional  vein. 

I  never  had  any  inspiration,  so  to  speak,  on  that 
subject.   I've  never  seen  anything  I  could  do  to 


Stewart:  approach  It,  although  I  have  been  interested  for  a 

long  time.   It's  always  seemed  to  me  to  be  the  basic 
problem  of  modern  civilization,  even  more  than 
pollution,  because  of  course  the  population  problem 
Is  one  of  the  chief  factors  of  pollution. 

Riess:    You  might  write  about  what  happens  on  the  day  of  the 
real  crisis. 

Stewart:  Well,  you  get  into  science  fiction  there,  and  I  never 
got  into  that  very  much. 

Riess:    I'd  like  to  know  what  your  experience  with  private 
presses  has  been. 

Stewart:   I've  really  have  very  little  experience  with  private 
presses.   I've  published  two  or  three  things  that 
way,  usually  with  the  Book  Club  of  California,  which 
handles  all  the  press  work  and  that  sort  of  thing 

Riess:    You  had  something  printed  by  the  Grabhorns,  the  Colt 

Stewart:  Yes,  the  Colt  Press.  That  was  Jane  Grabhorn  who  had 
that,  and  it  wasn't  published  under  the  Grabhorn 
imprint.   I  wasn't  really  involved  with  it  very  much. 
They  Just  took  it  and  printed  it.   Incidentally,  they 
printed  too  many,  and  it's  been  a  kind  of  drug  on  the 
market  for  a  good  many  years,  although  now  I  think 
it's  a  book  which  has  some  value  because  the  supply 
has  been  exhausted.  But  I  really  had  almost  no  direct 
experience  with  any  kind  of  private  press.   In  fact, 
on  the  whole  I've  kept  away  from  them,  perhaps  again 
being  something  of  a  professional. 

Riess:    How  does  that  follow? 

Stewart:   Generally  speaking,  you  don't  publish  with  a  private 
press  if  you  can  get  a  national  publication.   Private 


Stewart:   presses  publish  specialized  kinds  of  material,  usually 
short  things  and  in  small  editions.   They  have  their 
place,  but  it  was  not  the  sort  of  thing  that  I  was 
ever  primarily  interested  in,  as  Jim  Hart,  for  instance, 
has  a  tremendous  interest  in  it. 

Riess:    What  about  the  pleasure  of  seeing  your  words  printed 
in  such  a  fancy  fashion? 

Stewart:  I  don't  feel  that  very  much.   I  think  it's  the  other 
way  around,  really.  Of  course  some  books  can  be  so 
badly  printed  that  they  are  a  pain  to  read.   On  the 
other  hand,  when  the  printing  itself  becomes  the  chief 
way  of  Judging  the  book,  I  don't  like  it.   It  seems  to 
me  it  takes  away  from  what  I've  written. 

Riess:    We've  talked  about  the  importance  of  significant 

divisions  of  chapters,  etc.  It  seems  to  me  a  private 
press  could  really  do  this  up.  When  you  are  dealing 
with  a  commercial  publisher,  oan  you  indicate  that  you 
want  this? 

Stewart:  Well,  you  might,  if  there  was  something  that  you 

wanted  very  badly,  yes,  and  if  you  had  a  good  relation 
ship  with  your  publisher.  Generally  speaking,  you  can 
trust  the  modern  American  publishers  pretty  well,  since 
about  the  1920s,  when  Alfred  Knopf  made  the  business 
over,  and  Random  House  followed.  You  get  a  very  nice 
book  done  by  commercial  publishers,  almost  without 
exception.  Even  the  second-string  publishers  do  very 
nice  books. 

Riess:    The  person  who  designs  a  book,  does  he  read  it  through 
to  know  it? 

Stewart:  I  think  sometimes  he  does  and  sometimes  he  doesn't. 
I  don't  know.  Sometimes  you  can't  tell.  They  can 
make  bad  mistakes.   I  think,  on  the  other  hand,  there 
are  good  ones  and  bad  ones.  Book  design — you're 
probably  thinking  of  the  Jacket,  rather  than  the 

Riess:    I  was  thinking  then  of  initial  letters  in  chapters, 
and  how  far  down  the  chapter  begins,  and  so  on. 

Stewart:  Well,  of  course,  I  don't  think  that's  important  at  all. 
It's  the  content,  it's  the  style,  it's  not  the  printing. 



Rless:    I  had  thought  that  certain  kinds  of  emphasis,  like 

beginning  a  chapter  on  a  new  page,  would  be  important 
to  you. 

Stewart:   Well,  that  might  be,  yes,  I  could  see  that.  But  I 

think  it's  a, very  minor  factor.  For  Instance,  Names 
on  the  Land  came  out  during  a  wartime  paper  restriction, 
so  it's  fixed  up  this  way,  you  see.   [Chapters  end  and 
begin   in  same  page.]  Without  any  blank  pages.  That's 
a  reprint,  but  of  course  they  kept  the  same  format 
because  they  Just  reprint  from  offset.  I  think  that's 
the  only  book  of  mine  that  was  done  that  way,  but  I 
don't  mind  it  at  all. 

Riess:    I  thought  also  that  your  interest  in  bookbinding  might 
have  brought  you  closer  to  the  private  presses. 

Stewart:  That's  very  recent,  and  private  presses  don't  go  in 

for  handbindlng  anyway.   I  don't  know  any  private  press 
work  that  is  done  by  handblnding;  it's  Just  too 
expensive,  it's  always  a  special  Job.   I  don't  know 
where  they  get  them  bound — someplace  around  here. 

There  are  one  or  two  things  that  bother  me  about 
a  book.  They  bother  me  more  as  I  get  older.   I  suppose 
my  eyes  aren't  so  good.  You  can't  have  a  book  with 
too  small  print,  that  makes  It  difficult  to  read.  But 
that's  pretty  unusual.  You  get  it  in  old  reprints  of 
Trollope,  and  things  of  that  sort,  that  very  small 
type.  Another  thing  Is  too  broad  a  line,  which  I 
sometimes  find  difficult.  But  that's  unusual  too.  It's 
usually  in  some  book  that  is  chiefly  pictures. 

Riess:    What  is  it  difficult? 

Stewart:  It's  Just  one  of  the  things  that  gets  in  your  road, 

and  I  think  it  does  slow  comprehension,  and  tires  the 
eyes  physically,  too.  But  most  books  are  pretty  well 
printed.  Whether  you  have  a  big  capital  letter  and 
that  sort  of  thing  doesn't  bother  me.  It's  not  the 

Riess:    It's  not  the  medium,  it's  the  message.   Could  you  have 
been  a  bookbinder  and  been  a  happy  man? 

Stewart:   I  don't  know.   I  don't  think  so.   I  don't  think  that 
would  have  enough  scope.   I  might  have  been  all  right 
in  some  kind  of  trade.   I  think  I  probably  could  have 
been.   I  would  have  had  some  kind  of  hobby  of  another 



Stewart : 


Stewart  : 




Stewart  : 

Stewart : 

sort.  But  itfs  pretty  nearly  impossible  to  tell  what 
you  might  be. 

As  I  look  back  on  my  ancestry,  for  Instance,  of 
which  there's  a  pretty  good  record,  they  never  did 
anything  very  much,  and  yet  they  must  have  had  pretty 
much  the  same  mental  characteristics  that  I  have. 
They  were  farmers.  Everybody  was  a  farmer  in  those 
days.  And  all  kinds  of  tradespeople.   I  suppose  some 
of  them  must  have  had  very  much  the  same  mental  set-up 
that  I  have. 

Mental  characteristics,  mental  set-up? 
sum  up  your  mental  set-up? 

How  do  you 

Well,  I  don't  know  exactly.   I  mean  I  suppose  a 
combination  of  your  emotional  and  your  intellectual 
endowment,  which  develops  into  your  environment.  The 
opening  of  my  second  chapter  of  my  autobiography  deals 
with  that  a  little  bit,  I  guess. 

I  don't  remember  your  ancestors  being  farmers.   I 
thought  they  were  more  scholarly. 

Well,  I  like  to  imagine  they  were  scholars,  some  of 
them,  but  I  don't  really  know,   [laughing]  There 
isn't  a  very  good  record  of  it  until  you  get  down  to 
the  time  of  a  couple  of  my  uncles,  who  did  scholarly 

It  seems  like  it  would  be  more  fun  to  imagine  yourself 
as  having  sprung  out  of  farming  stock. 

I  can  imagine  that,  because  as  I  say,  everybody  was 
a  farmer  in  those  days,  practically,  Some  of  them  had 
other  jobs  too,  of  one  kind  or  another.  They  were 
storekeepers  or  tavern-keepers.  One  of  my  grandfathers 
was  a  doctor.  He  must  have  been  a  pretty  lousy  doctor. 

Why  do  you  think  he  was  a  lousy  doctor? 

Because  he  always  lived  in  very,  very  small  towns,  and 
didn't  apparently  succeed  very  well  at  his  doctoring. 
Oh,  my  great-grandfather  on  my  mother's  side  is  the 
one  that  I  can  think  of  as  a  scholar.  He  seems  to  have 
been  such  a  badly-adjusted,  unhappy  man,  an  unsuccessful 
man,  and  yet  you  have  a  feeling  that  behind  him  there 
was  something  that  he  wasn't  doing.   He  had  some 
education,  as  things  went  in  those  days.  You  imagine 

Stewart:   things  about  a  man. 

Hiess:    When  you  wrote  Good  Lives  I  think  that  you  said  in 
that  book,  or  someplace,  that  they  had  solved  the 
problem  of  living.  Do  you  think  that  any  of  them 
would  have  agreed  with  that  assessment,  or  is  that 
Just  yours? 

Stewart:  I  think  they  probably  would  have  agreed  that  they  had 
led  good  lives,  yes.  You  don't  know  how  a  man's  going 
to  react  to  himself,  but  I  think  they  well  might  have 
felt  that. 

Riess:    Other  people's  assessment  at  some  point  along  the  way 
might  be  enlightening.   It's  hard  to  get  objectivity 
about  the  quality  of  your  own  life. 

Stewart:  Well,  since  I  wrote  that  book,  several  people  have 
told  me  that  I  was  an  ezample  of  a  man  who  had  led 
a  good  life. 

Riess:    That's  nice  to  hear,  too,  I'll  bet. 

Stewart:   It's  very  nice  to  hear,  yes.  A  professor  over  at 

Berkeley,  not  long  ago,  a  man  I  don't  know  very  well, 
said  to  me,  for  no  particular  reason,  "You  know, 
George,  you've  led  a  good  life.  You've  done  exactly 
what  you  wanted  to  do."  Which  is  partly,  I  suppose, 
a  phase  of  a  good  life. 

And  after  the  Christmas  dinner  at  the  Faculty 
Club  this  year,  a  few  men  gathered  upstairs  where  we 
had  some  more  drinks,  and  they  asked  me.  I  was 
sitting  here,  and  one  of  the  men  from  the  other  side 
of  the  table,  a  man  (again)  I  don't  know  very  well, 
got  up  and  walked  all  the  way  around  the  table,  and 
spoke  to  me,  "George,  I  just  wanted  to  say  that  I 
think  you're  wonderful."  That's  very  nice.  I  don't 
know  what  he  was  thinking  about,  but  that's  sort  of — 
you  feel  that  in  some  way  you  have  lived  a  good  life. 

Riess:    For  somebody  to  say  that  you've  lived  a  good  life 
implies  some  kind  of  objective  knowledge.  To  say 
"You're  wonderful,"  that's  different,  because  that's 
a  subjective  thing. 

Stewart:  Well,  I  don't  think  that,  particularly.  I  don't 

think  the  two  statements  are  comparable  in  that  way. 
They  reinforce  one  another.  They  both  made  me  feel 
very  good.  Particularly,  since  these  were  men  I  don't 

Stewart:  know  too  well.   It  was  cocmletely  uncalled  for, 
mean,  it  wasn't  in  the  course  of  conversation. 



Stewart : 

Stewart : 



There's  an  article  that  I  haven't  read,  and  wish  I 
had,  in  your  bibliography,  from  the  Pacific  Spectator, 
called  "the  Twilight  of  the  Printed  Book." What  were 
you  saying  in  19*4-9  about  the  twilight  of  the  printed 

I  was  a  little  premature.  But  things  are  moving  that 
way,  gradually.   My  idea  was  that  the  book  as  we  know 
it  was  not  the  last  or  permanent  word  in  the  trans- 
mi  ttal  of  information  and  art.  Such  things  as  microfilm, 
microcards,  and  reproductions  of  that  sort  offered 
tremendous  possibilities  and  mirtfit  easily  replace  the 
printed  book.  There  are  signs  that  that  Is  happening. 

You  were  ahead  of  your  time, 

That's  what's  happening 

Slowly.   I  didn't  give  it  enough  time.  That's  one  of 
the  great  faults  of  prophecy.  You  should  always  give 
it  about  twice  as  much  time  as  you  think,  to  start 

You  mean  you  had  said  within  twenty  years? 

Twenty-five  years  or  something  like  that.  It  isn't 
making  out  that  way.  The  codex  is  a  very  convenient 
thing.  My  idea  was  that  you  could  sit  here,  for 
instance,  and  have  your  book  thrown  on  the  wall  there, 
In  letters  four  inches  high.  Just  sit  here  and  read 
it,  and  you  could  press  a  button  and  move  it,  and  so 
forth.  You  wouldn't  need  to  hold  the  book. 

You  wouldn't  even  have  to  have  a  book. 
Just  beamed  from  headquarters. 

It  could  be 

That  would  be  possible  too.  Or  you  could  have  a 
projector  right  here.  It's  working  that  way.  There's 


Stewart:  a  tremendous  project  now,  of  a  whole  library,  29,000 
volumes  or  so,  on  one  shelf.  That  kind  of  mini- 
print  . 

Of  course  I  was  conceiving  it  not  merely  as  a 
way  of  preserving  material  efficiently,  but  actually 
as  a  way  of  transmitting  it  to  the  reader.  The 
emphasis  has  all  been  on  the  preserving  of  material, 
and  it  hasn't  been  on  making  it  available.  But 
actually,  most  people  think  of  microfilm,  which  was 
an  invention  of  the  devil.  Reading  microfilm  is  Just 

But  that's  so  primitive.  There's  no  reason  why 
they  couldn't  have  something  vastly  better.  You  could 
have  oral  books,  too.  As  I  pointed  out  in  this 
article,  you  could  have  a  machine  under  your  pillow, 
instead  of  now,  as  you  try  to  read  in  bed,  you  have 
to  put  something  around  you,  and  sit  up,  and  when  you 
want  to  go  to  sleep  you  have  to  take  all  this  stuff 
off,  and  turn  out  the  light  and  throw  the  pillow  away 
somewhere,  and  it's  a  terrible  nuisance,   [laughter] 
I  never  do  it.   If  you  could  Just  have  this  thing 
reading  to  you,  lie  on  the  pillow  and  have  it  reading 
to  you,  then  when  you  went  to  sleep,  your  heartbeat 
would  change,  and  it  would  turn  off. 

The  possibilities  have  nothing  to  do  with  this 
old-fashioned  codex,  which  was  invented  in  about  the 
fifth  century,  you  know.  And  it  was  a  very  useful 
invention.  But  it  isn't  necessarily  the  last  word. 

Now,  of  course,  they're  emphasizing  the  comfort 
to  the  reader  in  some  of  these  new  ones  they're 
putting  out.  There's  a  picture  of  a  girl  sitting  in 
a  chair  reading  this  thing.  It  looks  terribly 
uncomfortable  to  me.  She's  curled  up.  But  some  people 
like  to  read  that  way. 

Riess:    Seelye,  in  the  same  review,  said  that  you  informed 
the  reader  of  "the  nature  and  origins  of  our 
institutions,  celebrating  them  where  possible, 
condemning  them  where  necessary."  What  condemning  do 
you  think  he's  referring  to? 

Stewart:  Well,  Not  So  Rich  As  You  Think  is  the  obvious  example. 
There's  certainly  criticism  of  institutions,  I  suppose, 
implicit  in  Earth  Abides,  that  there  are  other  solutions 
to  this  tyr>e  of  thing.  There's  not  one  necessarily 
proper  one.   I  haven't  done  much  of  that  sort  of  thing, 
though,  really. 

Rless:    In  Doctor's  Oral  too? 

Stewart:   No,  I  don't  think  so.   That's  not  really  much  of  a 

criticism  of  the  system.   I  never  meant  it  to  be,  at 
least.   I  don't  know  exactly  what  he  had  in  mind  there. 
There  is  something  in  Man,  which  could  be  cited  on 
that.   I  didn't  think  that  was  characteristic  of  my 
work  particularly. 

Riess:    When  you  were  writing  Committee  of  Vigilance  and 
Plckett's  Charge  and  Ordeal  by  Hunger,  I  think 
particularly,  what  did  you  do  about  the  matter  of 
taking  sides  or  passing  Judgment?  At  what  point  did 
you  take  sides,  if  you  took  sides? 

Stewart:   In  Ordeal  by  Hunger,  I  don't  think  I  took  sides  much 
at  all. I  couldn't  actually  get  very  enthusiastic 
about  a  man  like  Keseberg,  but  I  don't  think  that  I 
took  sides  particularly.   And  then  I  don't  think  I 
did  in  the  other  books  very  much  either;  of  course, 
I  find  my  sympathies  extremely  with  the  Union  side  in 
Plckett's  Charge.   I  couldn't  get  away  from  that.   But 
I  don't  think  that's  very  obvious  in  the  book.  And 
as  far  as  Committee  of  Vigilance  goes,  that  was  a 
difficult  one  to  work  on  at  the  time.   One  reviewer 
accused  me  of  defending  the  principle  of  the  Committee 
of  Vigilance.   But  I  tried  not  to,  really.   I  tried  to 
show  why  they  did  it,  and  in  that  sense  it  is  a  kind 
of  defense  of  it,  I  suppose.  But  on  the  whole,  not. 

I  think  that  is  one  thing  which  has  given  a  good 
deal  of  strength  to  my  books,  that  kind  of  non Judgmental 

Riess:    Is  it  the  same  as  the  withdrawing  into  the  sky? 
you  pret  enough  distance? 


Stewart:   I  suppose  so.   I  find  that  in  this  present  book  I'm 
working  on  very  much,  the  fact  that  it's  very 
difficult  for  me  to  condemn  any  of  these  people,  in 
spite  of  the  awful  thing  they  get  into,  and  the 
stupidity  they  show.   In  one  case,  this  even  rather 
satanic  character  is  in  many  ways  the  most  amusing 
and  interesting  character  in  the  book,  he's  by  far 
the  smartest  one  of  the  whole  crowd;  a  real  genius 
type.  It's  very  hard  for  me  to  try  to  make  a  moral 
Judgment  on  that  kind  of  thing. 


Stewart : 


Stewart : 

Do  you  think  that  it's  harder  in  books  than  it  is  in 
life?  If  you  were  discussing  a  specific  current  event 
with  a  friend,  you  would  find  yourself  more  prone  to 
render  Judgment? 

Oh,  I  think  so,  yes.  In  a  book  you  tend  to  see  It 
perhaps  in  the  round  more;  when  you  come  up  against  a 
particular  case,  you  have  to  make  a  Judgment  in  a 
particular  case. 


Actually  I'm  going  to  have  to  have  a  kind  of 
rejection  scene  in  this  book,  like  the  Palstaff 
rejection  scene.   I'm  not  quite  sure  how  to  handle 

You  say  you've  got  it  more  or  less  mapped  out. 
you  gotten  to  the  real  writing? 


I've  icritten  at  lesist  half  the  book,  but  I  was  feeling 
my  way  along,  perhaps  too  much  so.   On  the  theory  that 
the  thing  doesn't  exist  until  it's  more  or  less  whole. 
But  today  I  sat  down  and  I  went  through  the  last  three 
days  of  the  book.   It's  a  six-day  book.  And  I  got  it 
mapped  out  now  pretty  well,  got  the  causation  of  the 
book.   What  I  had  before  were  certain  things  I  knew 
were  goinV  to  happen,  but  Just  how  one  got  from  one 
to  the  otl^er,  what  mechanism  brought  it  into  focus,  I 
hadn't  sat\  down  and  worked  out.   I  knew  it  would  happen 
some  way  or  other  but  I  hadn't  really  worked  out  Just 
how.   There  are  still  a  few  things  I  don't  know,  but 
I'm  sure  they'll  come  out  as  I  go  along. 

I  plot \ a  book  like  that  a  great  deal  more 
schematically  and  causally  than  is  commonly  done  now 



Riess:    When  did  you  start  thinking  of  this  book?  We've 
been  interviewing  for  a  long  time.  Has  your  mind 
been  on  this  book? 

Stewart:   No,  it  hasn't  been.   I  haven't  held  anything  out  on 
you  here.   [laughing]   I  had  the  idea,  in  fact  I 
talked  about  it — not  about  writing  a  book  about  it 
particularly — I  may  even  have  talked  to  you  about  it, 
I  don't  know — about  the  dramatic  problem  that  would 
come  if  some  senior  member  of  an  English  department 
took  up  one  of  the  Shakespeare  heresies.   Finally, 
I  think  it  must  have  been  Just  about  the  time  you  quit 
coming  to  see  me  regularly,  I  did  get  this  idea:   "Well, 
that  could  be  written  as  a  book."  I  could  write  it. 
And  I  was  getting  tired  of  this  other  Job  I  was  working 
on.  So  I  started  doing  this,  and  I  did  a  little  bit 
of  reading  to  find  out  something  more  about  the 
Shakespeare  business,  and  decided  I  wanted  to  take  up 
the  Marlowe  phase  of  it. 

Then  I  got  to  work,  and  the  first  part  went  very 
rapidly,  Just  poured  out.   It  was  very  fine.  It 
showed  I  had  a  lot  of  things  on  my  mind,  a  lot  of 
Incidents  and  ideas  that  poured  out  very  nicely,  and 
shaped  up  about  ten  characters.  Then,  of  course,  I 
eventually  reached  the  middle  part,  which  as  I  keep 
telling  you  is  a  hard  part  to  get  through.  Now  I'm 
about  through  with  that,  and  I'm  seeing  the  end  of  it 
a  little  more  clearly  now. 

It's  a  book  that  starts  out  as  a  comedy,  and  ends 
as  a  tragedy.  A  com! -tragedy. 

Riess:    When  you  say  there  a  lot  of  incidents  and  ideas,  how 
do  you  mean  that?  Descriptions  of  characters  and 
things  ? 

Stewart:  Yes.  Incidents  that  could  be  brought  in.  The  whole 

book  practically  is  in  scene.  You  see,  it  occurs  only 
in  six  days.  There's  not  very  much  about  the  back 
grounds  of  these  characters,  which  may  be  a  certain 
weakness.  You  don't  see  them  very  whole.  One  or  two 
of  them  are  worked  out  a  little  more  fully. 

Riess:    You've  been  accumulating  lots  of  details  in  you. 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  think  there's  something  in  that.  I  know  I 

spilled  out  one  incident  in  the  opening  chapter,  and 
then  I  got  to  thinking,  "Well,  that's  much  too  good. 


Stewart:   I've  got  to  save  that."  [laughter]   I  cut  it  out 
of  that  chapter  completely,  and  I've  put  it  in  the 
real  action  of  the  book.   It's  almost  a  climactic 
moment.   I  couldn't  waste  it. 

I  guess  I  told  you  the  reason  I  quit  writing 
novels  for  a  while,  one  reason,  was  that  I  felt  that 
I  was  having  to  dig  too  hard  to  get  details  out.  They 
weren't  coming  spontaneously  any  more.  Now  it's 
changed  in  this  book,  very  much.  I  think  if  the 
book's  any  good,  it  will  largely  be  that  it  has  a  lot 
of  vitality  to  it. 

"Life  set  out  to  do  a  story  on  C.S.  Forester .. .probably  1945,  and  (to 
judge  from  the  daffodils)  spring.  We  staged  a  meeting  of  the  Armchair 
Strategists  [see  page  219]  at  Cecil's  house,  to  get  a  picture.   (The 
article  never  came  off.)   His  house  was  on  Keeler,  now  owned  by  Jack 
Raleigh.   Present  [left  to  right]:   C.D.  Brenner;  C.S.  Forester;  GRS; 
John  Forester;  Joseph  Henry  Jackson  (deceased);  Lewis  (deceased),  who 
was  a  friend  and  neighbor,  not  a  member;  Ronald  Walpole;  Reid  Railton; 
with  hands  behind  head,  J.H.  Osmer  (deceased).   The  other  man  we  think 
was  a  stand-in  for  Life;  neither  Brenner  nor  I  recognize  him.   Charlie 
Camp  was  a  member,  but  not  present."  GRS 


[Mailed  -Questions,  2J  February  1972,  answered  by 
taped  dictation  by  George  Stewart] 

Riess:    1.  What  has  your  outdoor  life,  the  fishing  trips, 
meant  to  you?  Is  it  a  chance  to  get  away  and 
think,  or  to  get  away  and  stop  thinking?  Can  you 
think  of  times  when  that  change  of  environment 
was  very  significant? 

2.  The  1937  Mexico  sojourn:   you  worked  on  East  of  the 
Giants  and  Doctor's  Oral,  and  even  Storm  while  you 
were  there.  Why  there?  What  about  being  in  Mexico 
rather  than  here?  A  matter  of  being  away  from 
teaching  and  responsibilities,  or  are  there  other 
factors  in  Going  Away  to  Work? 

3.  Do  you  do  your  best  thinking  away  from  home? 

4.  Did  you  choose  to  teach  at  Duke  in  1939  to  "get 
away  from  Berkeley"? 

What  were  you  doing  in  Pearl  Harbor  in  November 
Part  of  your  work  for  Trask? 

6.  Why  is  October  1,  19^4-6,  Albuquerque,  NYC, 
designated  the  "Earth  Abides  trip"  in  your  diary? 
Did  you  do  it  as  Ish  did? 

7.  You  went  back  to  Mexico  to  write?  in  February, 
March  19^9-  Again  in  Fall  1955- 

Stewart:  You  ask,  "What  has  your  outdoor  life,  the  fishing 
trips,  meant  to  you?  A  chance  to  think  or  not  to 

I  should  say  that  I  am  likely  to  do  a  lot  of 
thinking  at  any  time.  I  don't  think  that  my  environ 
ment  influences  it  particularly,  aside  from  the  fact 
of  being  definitely  uncomfortable  from  heat  or  cold 
or  something  of  that  sort.  I  don't  know  exactly  why 
my  fishing  trips  mean  so  much  to  me.   I  think,  on  the 
whole,  they  get  to  mean  more  as  I  get  older  and  have 
fewer  definite  outlets.  I  start  thinking,  "How  long 
can  I  keep  up  these  trips,  physically?"  I  have,  for 
instance,  developed  a  bad  knee  in  the  last  year,  and 
I  am  wondering  how  much  I  am  going  to  be  able  to  take 
on  the  river.   Certainly,  the  chance  to  get  away  on  a 


Stewart:  lovely  stream  in  good  mountain  country  means  a  great 
deal  to  me.   I  don't  know  exactly  why.  These  trips, 
of  course,  furnish  a  change  from  my  ordinary  urban 
environment.  I  Ret  more  exercise,  and  usually  manage 
to  lose  a  little  weight,  which  I  put  back  in  the  next 

You  ask  about  the  Mexican  visit  of  1937-8.  We 
went  there  because  I  had  a  Sabbatical  coming  up  at 
that  time.  We  were  very  short  of  money,  and  we  knew 
that  we  could  live  quite  cheaply  in  Mexico.  This 
actually  proved  to  be  the  case.  As  for  going  to 
Mexico  at  all,  it  was  very  "in"  at  that  time.  The 
actual  shooting  revolution  had  quieted  down,  and  there 
was  a  good  deal  of  experiment  in  social  change.   It 
was  a  very  interesting  place  to  be  at  that  time.   It 
was  perhaps  the  most  optimistic  time  that  Mexico  has 
had.  There  was  tremendous  interest  in  education,  and 
schools  were  springing  up  In  all  the  villages. 

Another,  but  slight  reason  for  going  to  Mexico 
was  that  I  was  writing  East  of  the  Giants,  and  I  thought 
that  getting  a  Mexican  background  would  help  me  on  that. 
It  did,  but  not  to  a  very  significant  degree. 

I  look  back  to  the  six  months  that  we  spent  in 
Cuernavaca  as  one  of  the  most  idyllic  times  of  my 
life.   Our  regular  paycheck  from  the  University  during 
that  period  was  about  $180  a  month,  and  we  had  very 
little  money  besides  that.  But  we  got  along  finely, 
and  had  three  servants  and  a  swimming  pool  with  our 
little  house  in  Cuernavaca.   Our  health  was  good  and 
the  family  was  happy,  and  my  writing  was  coming  along 

To  show  a  little  about  the  finances  of  that  time, 
towards  the  end  of  that  period  I  got  a  check  from  Holt 
for  $500  as  an  advance  on  a  novel.  With  that  money, 
when  we  left  Mexico  we  drove  all  the  way  to  New  York 
with  the  family,  and  then  back  across  the  country.  We 
were  completely  broke  when  we  got  home,  but  we  went 
a  long  way  on  that  $500. 

You  ask,  what  is  really  a  repetition,  "Do  you  do 
your  best  thinking  away  from  home?"  As  I  have  already 
said,  "I  do  my  best  thinking  anywhere,  anytime."  I 
may  paraphrase  what  I  wrote  of  a  character  in  the 
Shakespeare  Crisis,  "My  mind  is  like  some  great  machine 



Stewart:  or  meatgrlnder,  of  which  the  wheels  keep  grinding  on 
continuously.   I  throw  something  into  it  to  keep  it 
from  getting  too  hot.  I  do  a  lot  of  thinking,  and 
sometimes  I  have  to  cool  the  machine  by  doing  a 
crossword  puzzle  or  something  of  that  sort  which 
supplies  a  sort  of  artificial  fodder  to  keep  the 
gears  from  getting  hot.  I  suppose  that  fishing,  or 
binding  books,  is  a  device  to  keep  the  machine 
satisfied. " 

You  ask  about  my  teaching  at  Duke.   In  those 
years  I  taught  summer  session  pretty  regularly,  for 
the  simple  reason  that  I  needed  to  make  a  little  more 
money  to  have  the  budget  balance  for  the  year.  When 
we  drove  back  from  Mexico,  we  stopped  at  Durham  where 
I  knew  a  few  people  in  the  English  department,  and  at 
that  time  they  asked  me  to  teach  there  for  the  summer 
session.   I  took  the  Job  to  make  the  usual  bit  of 
money,  and  also  because  teaching  at  another  university 
yields  a  slight  prestige.   I  spent  a  rather  unpleasant 
summer  at  Durham,  by  myself,  the  family  having  gone 
off  somewhere.  It  was  hard  work,  and  the  heat  was 
terrific.  About  the  only  pleasant  features  I  remember 
were  the  dinners.  There  were  several  other  men  there 
teaching  without  their  families,  and  we  had  a  foursome 
that  got  together  every  evening,  very  pleasantly. 

You  ask  about  Pearl  Harbor  in  19^4.   That  was  part 
of  my  work  with  Trask  on  the  Navy  project.  The  idea 
that  I  should  fly  out  there  and  get  a  little  closer 
contact  with  submarine  operations  was  at  least  no  more 
crazy  an  idea  than  lots  of  others  that  happened  in 
those  war  years.   I  had  to  get  up  a  kind  of  halfway 
uniform,  without  any  insignia,  and  since  I  had  served 
in  the  Army  before,  being  without  any  insignia  always 
made  me  feel  only  half -dressed.  The  Navy  didn't  give 
such  people  much  status.   I  rated  about  Just  below 

Curiously,  I  did  accomplish  a  few  things.   If 
the  war  had  gone  on  (though  that  would  have  been  a 
high  price  to  pay)  I  think  something  might  possibly 
have  come  out  of  that  trip.   I  flew  out  In  a  DC-^  with 
a  lot  of  young  fellows  who  were  going  out  as  replace 
ments  on  carriers.  They  were  pretty  sober.  I  flew 
back  on  a  big  Coronado  flying  boat,  very  slow.   It 
lumbered  across  the  Pacific  for  hours  and  hours.  On 
that  trip  I  made  the  acquaintance  of  a  young  officer, 
Victor  Moiteret,  with  whom  I  have  kept  in  touch  ever 


Stewart:   since.  He  had  read  Storm «  and  was  interested  in 
meeting  me. 

You  ask  about  the  Earth  Abides  trip.  When  I 
came  to  write  that  book  in  19^8,  or  whenever  it  was, 
I  looked  back,  Just  for  convenience,  to  that  trip 
across  the  country  that  I  took  in  19^6.  I  sent  Ish 
by  the  same  route,  although  that  is  not  of  any  very 
great  significance.  That  is  why  I  have  sometimes 
called  that  the  Earth  Abides  trip. 

You  ask  about  my  later  contacts  with  Mexico.  My 
wife  and  I  went  there  in  19^9,  without  the  children, 
who  were  on  their  own  by  this  time.  It  was  largely 
a  sightseeing  and  vacation  trip.   I  settled  down 
however  in  Lake  Chepawa  for  about  a  month,  and  during 
that  time  worked  on  the  final  finishing  of  Earth 
Abides.  The  trip  to  Mexico  in  1955  was  in  connection 
with  N.A.I.   I  went  clear  on  to  Costa  Rica  at  that 
time.  My  wife  drove  with  me  down  as  far  as  Oaxaca 
and  from  there  on  and  all  the  way  back  I  was  with  Hal 
Of Flaherty,  a  good  friend,  former  editor  of  the 
Chicago  Daily  News*  I  was  also  in  Mexico,  although 
for  a  shorter  time,  in  1962-63.  I  spent  most  of  the 
time  in  La  Paz.   Some  work  on  that  trip,  however,  was 
gathering  material  on  Tresguerras,  in  the  vicinity  of 
Que£etaro  and  Celaya.  We  stayed  in  that  area  for 
about  a  week,  and  I  rented  a  car  to  drive  around  in. 
The  opening  of  the  section  on  Tresguerras  in  Good  Lives 
(although  I  do  not  hold  it  up  as  an  especially  notable 
passage)  came  to  me  when  I  was  driving  around  that 

As  a  result  of  these  trips  my  wife  and  I  have 
covered  Mexico  pretty  thoroughly,  except  for  Yucatan. 
We  have  really  not  much  more  desire  to  go  back  to 
Mexico,  with  that  exception.  The  great  population 
growth,  and  the  environmental  strain,  has  made  Mexico 
a  less  pleasant  place  than  it  was  in  the  thirties. 
Also  a  great  deal  of  the  hope  that  was  then  in  evidence 
has  disappeared. 

INTERVIEW  IX,  with  George  R.  Stewart  and  Charles  L.  Camp. 
First  meetings,  almost;  "the  history  of  life";  folklore, 
and  the  Drake  Plate;  hoaxmakers;  sideways  to  history; 
Herbert  Bolton;  adventures  with  Charlie  and  George;  off 
the  road;  the  house  at  Black  Rock;  later  trips,  other 


write  the  way  George  does";  clubs;  the 

library,  then;  the  library,  in  transition;  the  Bancroft 
Library;  pleasures  and  pains  of  writing.   (Recorded 
March  15,  1972) 

First  meetings,  almost 

Hless:    When  did  you  first  meet  Charles  Camp,  Mr.  Stewart? 

Stewart:  The  first  time  I  can  remember  we  met  was  in  that  group 
called  the  Folio  Club.  And  that  would  have  been  not 
terribly  early  in  either  of  our  careers  around  Berkeley. 
That  was,  I  imagine,  about  193^»  Is  that  what  you  had 
in  mind? 

Camp:     When  were  you  writing  the  Dormer  Party  book? 
Stewart:  Just  at  that  time. 

Camp:     Well,  that  was  the  time  I  met  you,  because  you  came  up 
and  you  wanted  to  know  something  about  what  did  I  think 
of  the  men  on  the  Dormer  Party?  That's  what  you  asked 
me,  "Why  didn't  they  have  better  men?"  and  I  said, 
"Well,  they  did  have  some  pretty  good  men.  One  of  them 
was  Stanton. " 

I  remember  how  Interested  you  were  in  the  Dormer 
Party,  and  I  thought,  "Well,  it  seems  curious  to  me. 
You're  not  a  Californian,  and  yet  you" — you'd.  Just 
come  out  from  Princeton  or  somewhere — "and  yet  you 
seem  to  be  tremendously  interested  in  this  episode  in 
California  history." 


Stewart : 

Stewart : 



Stewart : 

Stewart : 

Actually,  it's  rather  Interesting  we  did  not  meet 
until  such  a  late  date,  because  we  were  interested 
in  the  same  things,  and  we'd  run  along  parallel  lines. 
In  fact,  we  both  went  to  school  in  Pasadena  when  we 
were  in  high  school. 

But  you  were  probably  after  the  time  I  was. 

I  was  Just  a  little  bit  after,  yes,  but  we  were  very 
close  to  having  tied  up  a  long  time  before  and  never 
did.  Just  worked  out  that  way.  After  all,  I'd  been 
in  Berkeley  for  ten  years  or  so  at  that  time  when  I 
remember  meeting  you,  and  you  had  been  there  about  the 
same  length  of  time. 

In  1919  George  Stewart  was  hitch-hiking  across  the 
country  and  you  were  going,  I  think,  probably  in  Just 
the  other  direction. 

Yes,  I  was  going  back.  I  had  Just  arrived  here  in 
1919  from  Europe  from  the  war,  and  I  was  going  back  to 
New  York  to  spend  another  two  years  getting  my  degree. 
Trying  to  finish  up  my  thesis  and  all  that. 

What  happened  to  that  hitch-hiking  venture?  Why  did 
it  end  in  Kansas? 

I  got  kind  of  sick,  and  I  had  had  that  bad  pneumonia 
a  year  or  so  before,  which  I  never  recovered  from, 
which  I  still,  in  a  sense,  have.  And  it  took  the  push 
out  of  me.   I  had  gone  a  long  way  already,  and  I  Just 
didn't  feel  I  could  go  any  farther  on  it,  so  I  took 
the  train  there  from  Garden  City,  Kansas,  in  the 
western  part  of  Kansas.  I'd  hitch-hiked  all  the  way 
from  New  York  City. 


Did  you  have  any  difficulties  getting  a  ride? 

Oh,  no  serious  difficulties.   Of  course  in  those 
days  there  weren't  very  many  cars.  If  you  made  a 
hundred  miles  in  one  car  that  was  a  Big  Ride.  You 
rarely  did  that.   I  wrote  that  up.   I  tried  to  publish 
it,  but  I  could  never  get  anyone  to  publish  it,  and  I 
threw  it  away  eventually.  So  you  can't  see  that  one. 
[laughter]  When  I  get  to  my  autobiography,  that 
section  will  have  to  have  a  chapter  on  hitch-hiking. 

Riess:    When  you  met  Charlie  Camp,  he  was  an  expert  on 
California  history? 


Stewart  t  Yes . 

Camp:     I  was  an  amateur,   [laughing]  I  was  never  an  expert. 
But  like  Bolton  used  to  say  to  me — I  was  riding 
with  him  one  time  to  the  California  Historical  Society 
meeting,  and  he  says,  "Camp,  what  are  you  doing 
dabbling  around  in  California  history?" 

"Well,"  I  said — I  was  a  little  bit  peeved  about 
this,  you  know — and  I  said,  "Well,  Professor  Bolton, 
paleontology  is  a  part  of  history.  You  ought  to 
learn  your  field. " 

Stewart:  Yes,  very  good  reply. 

"The  history  of  life" 

Camp:     That's  true,  too.  Paleontology  is  a  part  of  history. 
It's  kind  of  an  extension,  and  a  big  extension.  You 
can  link  them  up  very  nicely.  It's  a  good  thing  to 
do.  It's  a  good  thing  to  forget  that  there  are 
boundaries  between  paleontology,  geology,  anthropology, 
and  all  that.  Just  forget  the  boundaries  and  think  of 
the  whole  thing  as  a  great  sweep  of  history.  You  know? 

Bless:    Was  that  radical  thinking  for  a  paleontologist  in 
those  days? 

Camp:     I  don't  think  so.  I  think  that  in  our  way  of  thinking, 
the  way  we  were  trained  in  zoology  and  paleontology 
was  to  confine  yourself  very  strictly  to  your  specialty 
and  not  try  to  branch  out.  That  was  one  idea,  sort  of 
a  doctrine.  They  tried  to  get  you  to  stick  to  your 
subject  and  not  fool  around.  Well,  I  did  a  lot  of 
fooling  around.  I  did  a  lot  of  branching  out.  And 
I'm  not  sorry  that  I  did,  because  it  makes  life  much 
more  interesting. 

I  wrote  a  book  called  Earth  Song  in  which  I  tried 
to  bring  in  this  idea  of  the  whole  business  being  put 




Camp  : 


together  without  any  boundary  lines.*  And  when  I 
submitted.  It,  I  told  Sam  Farquhar,  who  was  then 
manager  of  the  [U.  C.]  Press,  that  I  would  give  him 
a  book  at  the  time  of  the  Centennial.   (They  were 
publishing  some  books  at  the  time  of  the  Centennial 
of  the  Gold  Discovery.)   I  told  him  I'd  give  him  a 
book,  and  I  did.  Of  course,  he'd  died  in  the  meantime, 
but  I  went  to  the  Press  with  this  book,  and  then  they 
objected  because  it  contained  history  as  well  as 
paleontologyj,  and  they  didn't  think  we  ought  to  be 
mixing  the  two  things  up.  Well,  I  said,  "Read  it, 
and  see  what  you  think."  So  finally  they  decided  to 
let  it  go  through  the  way  it  was,  sort  of  protesting 
about  it.  But  I  think  that  was  proper. 

My  book  Man  is  a  little  bit  like  that.  I  don't  get 
back  into  the  paleontology  particularly,  but  I  tried 
to  run  all  the  anthropology  right  into  the.  history. 

Sure  . 

In  a  statement  in  There  Was  Light,  you  said,  Mr.  Camp, 
something  about  "the  obscure  origin  of  mankind11  and 
"the  long,  painfully  slow  progress  of  humankind.  "** 
And  I  wanted  to  understand  what  you  meant  in  that 
distinction  between  mankind  and  humankind. 


Well.  I  don't  know.  exactly  what  I  did  mean,  but  I 
think  that  there  is  probably  a  difficulty  in 
distinguishing  at  the  beginning,  at  the  very  beginning. 
We're  having  difficulties  to  know  Just  what  they  mean 
by  "man."  When  man  first  comes  on  the  scene,  what  is 
the  distinguishing  characteristic,  or  what  are  the 
distinguishing  characteristics?  I  used  to  ask  people 
that  question,  Just  for  the  fun  of  it  to  see  what 
they'd  say,  and  I  asked  a  priest  down  in  Africa.   I 
was  studying  bones  down  in  Africa,  going  through  the 
caves,  and  this  man  came  around.  I  asked  him,  this 
priest,  I  said,  "What  do  you  regard  as  the  criterion 
of  man?  If  you  found  ancient  remains  how  would  you 

* Charles  Camp,  Earth  Song.  A  Prologue  to  History, 
U.C.  Press,  1952. 

**Irving  Stone ,  There  Was  Light.  Doubleday  &  Co . , 
1970,  p.  273. 



Camp:     know?  How  would  you  know  whether  or  not  it  was  man? 
What  criterion  would  you  apply  to  this  object  to 
know  whether  it  was  man?" 

"Well,"  he  said,  "man  is  to  be  regarded  as  having 
faith. "  When  you  first  have  faith. 

I  said,  "All  right.  That's  wonderful,  but  how 
do  you  know  that,  when  you're  dealing  with  bones,  and 
dealing  with  these  things  in  the  rocks?  Digging 
things  up?  You  can't  tell.  You  have  to  have  something 
more  practical  in  the  way  of  a  criterion.  You  have 
to  know  whether  it  was — for  instance,  you  know  if  it 
was  making  stone  tools.  Perhaps  you  have  the  stone 
tools  there,  and  if  it  was  making  stone  tools  or  had 
fire,  maybe  you  could  use  something  like  that  as  a 
criterion,  instead  of  the  question  of  faith  or  something, 
whether  it  had  religion." 

Of  course,  you  might  say,  "Well,  a  person  had 
faith  if  they  buried  their  dead  in  a  certain  way,  and 
had  certain  objects  buried  with  the  person,  funeral 
ceremonies  of  certain  types.  Then  you  could  say  they 
had  faith.  In  other  words,  the  Egyptians  might  have 
had  a  faith  of  some  sort,  or  other  people  of  ancient 
times  had  faith.  Well,  then,  they  could  say  that.  But 
with  these  very  ancient  people,  when  you're  going  back 
thousands  and  thousands  of  years,  why  you  can't  very 
well  say  whether  or  not  they  had  faith.  So  that's  not 
a  very  practical  criterion  as  to  whether  or  not  we're 
dealing  with  man  as  such. 

So  humankind,  mankind,  humankind — humankind 
would  be  something  very  ancient,  and  mankind  might 
be  something  a  little  more  recent.  Mankind  might  be 
something  that's  involved  in  the  present  type  of  man. 
I  suppose.   I'm  not  sure  that  I  understand  too  much 
about  that  either. 

Riess:    Could  you  describe  each  other  in  193^  ? 

Stewart:  I  can  remember  quite  definitely  that  meeting  of  the 
Polio  Club,  because  I  made  an  effort  to  get-  to  sit 
beside  you,  Charlie,  and  talk  to  you,  because  I  knew 
you  had  this  Interest  in  California  history,  and  I 
did  too.   It  may  have  been  then  that  we  talked  about 
the  Dormer  Party,  actually.  But  I  don't  remember  what 
you  looked  like,  except  you  looked  somewhat  the  way 


Stewart:  you  do  now.  That's  all.   I  don't  think  either  of  us 

is  probably  a  very  striking  type  physically,   [laughing] 

I  remember  having  a  very  good  conversation  with 
you  that  evening.  And  then  I  don't  remember  many 
other  contacts  with  you  for  quite  a  while.  There  was 
a  meeting  up  at  the  International  House  one  time.   I 
think  you  and  Lesley  Simpson,  or  possibly  Paul  Taylor, 
went  out  and  had  a  cup  of  coffee  or  something  after 
wards.  But  that  was  not  very  important.  I  gradually 
got  to  know  you  at  one  time  or  another. 

Folklore,  and  the  Drake  Plate 

Stewart:  Really  I  think  the  big  jump  that  our  friendship  took 
was  on  that  trip  to  Nevada. 

Camp:     Yes,  or  that  club  we  had. 

Stewart:  "E  olampus  vitus."  Yes,  you  took  me  over  to  that 
meeting  we  had  in  Tuolumne  along  with  Vanderhoof. 
And  we  had  a  very  nice  trip  on  that.  That  was  an 
interesting  situation. 

Riess:    What  was  that? 

Stewart:  Well,  this  "E  clampus  vitus" — I  guess  it's  still 

going — but  it  was  supposed  to  be  a  parody  of  Masonry, 
wasn't  it? 

Camp:  Yes,  and  it  was  supposed  to  resurrect  some  of  the 
folklore  of  California  from  the  early  days. 

Stewart:   I  think  it's  still  going,  but  it's  been  run  into  the 
ground  a  little  bit. 

Camp:     Oh,  yes,  it's  going.   It's  spread  all  over  the  country- 
all  over  California. 

Stewart:  This  was  back,  I  suppose,  about — when  would  you  say? 
That  trip?  1938  maybe? 

Camp:     Oh,  gosh,  I  don't  remember.  Wagner  was  there,  and 

Priestley  was  there,  and  the  Great  Hi-0  Chief  Puller 



Stewart : 

S  tewart : 

Stewart : 

of  the  Tuolomne  Tribe,  was  there.   When  the  deuce 
could  that  have  been?  It  was  shortly  after  the 
plaque  was  discovered,  this  Drake  plaque,  because 
we  had  an  Imitation  Drake  plaque  that  we  put  out  on 
that  boulder,  you  know.   Vanderhoof  fixed  up  this 
plaque  that  was  a  parody  on  the  Drake  plaque,  and 
the  Indians  were  supposed  to  take  care  of  it.   And 
they  did.   It's  still  there.   The  Indians  are  taking 
care  of  It.   Yes.   "Returning  the  land  to  the  Indians" 
because  of  the  fact  that  England  didn't  do  anything 
about  the  occupancy  of  the  country.  You  see,  they 
didn't  occupy  the  country  after  all. 

Why  don't  we  say  a  word  about  that  Drake  plate  anyway? 
What  about  that,  Charlie?  Do  you  have  anything  to 
say  about  the  Drake  plate? 

Oh,  I  don't  know  anything  about  it. 
as  though  it  was  settled — 

It  seems  to  me 

Well,  let's  come  clean  here,  now.  We've  got  a  real 
opportunity  here  to  say  your  say  about  the  Drake  plate, 

[laughter]  Yes.  Well,  of  course,  there  are  so  many 
things  about  the  Drake  plaque  that  are  peculiar.   The 
whole  discovery  was  mixed  up  because  it  was  picked  up 
by  somebody  and  thrown  in  a  car,  and  was  all  covered 
with  grease  when  I  first  saw  it.   It  looked  as  though 
it  had  been  hammered  by  somebody  recently.  Maybe  not 
recently,  but  anyway  it  looked  as  though  it  had  been. 
Oh,  it  was  the  most  peculiar  situation. 

And  then  the  story  came  out  that  it  was  picked 
up  over  here  on  San  Quentin — near  San  Quentin  Point 
instead  of  over  at  Drake's  Bay.   Oh,  I  don't  know,  I 
suppose  we  have  to  say  that  it  was  genuine.  That's 
what  we  have  to  say  now.   It's  like  sort  of  a  canon. 
It's  like  some — 

We  don't  have  to  say  that  here, 
we  say  about  it. 

She  won't  tell  what 

Like  the  Ten  Commandments  or  something,  that  was  dug 
up,  that's  got  to  be  genuine?  Is  that  it?  The  book 
of  Mormon,  or  something. 

Riess:    Has  there  always  been  a  controversy  surrounding  it? 


Camp:     Well,  there  Is  a  big  controversy  now  as  to  whether 
it  was  found  at  Drake* s  Bay  or  whether  it  was  found 
over  here  at  Point  San  Quentin.   That  seems  to  be  the 
controversy  now.   Nobody  ever  questions  the  fact  of 
the  plaque  Itself. 

Stewart:   Well,  there  has  been  always  some  question  about  it, 
of  course. 

Camp:     Oh,  at  the  beginning  there  was  a  big  question  as  to 
whether  the  plaque  was  genuine. 

Stewart:  Bolton  said  it  was,  and  he  really  put  it  across. 

Camp:     Well,  Bolton  danced  around  and  didn't  make  any  real 

scientific  investigation  of  it.   Then  Wagner  got  busy 
and  advised  him  to  get  it  analyzed  or  something.   I 
wrote  a  little  book  about  it  myself.  I  Just  wrote 
a  parody  on  the  whole  deal.  Then  they  sent  it  to 
an  expert  and  the  expert  decided  that  there  was  some 
reason  to  think  that  the  brass  was  ancient,  or  some 
thing  of  that  sort. 

Riess:    Can't  something  like  that  be  given  the  Carbon-1^ 
dating  sort  of  thing? 

Camp:     I  don't  think  they  could  date  it,  no,  but  they  had 
some  reason  to  think  it  was  ancient. 

Stewart:   I  know  something  about  that.  At  least  I  heard  of  it 
at  the  time.   You  see,  it  came  into  the  possession  of 
the  University  someway  or  other,  and  Sproul  appointed 
a  committee  to  investigate  it.   In  the  first  place, 
Bolton  was  one  of  the  committee.   Well,  that  was  no 
investigation  at  all,  because  Bolton  had  already  stuck 
out  his  neck  a  hundred  miles  on  it,  so  all  he  could 
say  was  yes. 

The  second  man  was  Joel  Hildebrand.   Well,  Joel 
Hildebrand  had  it  analyzed  chemically,  and  I  think 
he  did  a  proper  Job  on  it.  And  it  has  all  sorts  of 
impurities  in  it,  such  as  you  would  not  get  in  modern 
bronze,  or  brass,  whichever  it  is.  And  so  it  is  an 
old  piece  of  brass,  no  question  about  that.  But  that 


Stewart:   doesn't  mean  that  a  faker  couldn't  have  got  hold  of 
an  old  piece  of  brass. 

The  third  man  was  Jimmy  Cllne  of  the  English 
department,  who  was  supposed  to  investigate  the 
language  of  it,  to  see  if  it  was  Elizabethan  language. 
Jim  was  never  a  scholar,  and  he  was  not  a  good  man 
at  all  for  that  job.   So  I  never  thought  that  the 
committee  did  an  awful  lot  except  to  prove  that  it 
was  an  old  piece  of  brass.  If  it  is  a  fake,  it's  an 
extremely  clever  fake,  you've  got  to  say  that  for  it. 
You  see,  you  can  never  prove  that  a  thing  like  that 
is  so.  You  can  prove  that  it's  not  so.  But  there's 
no  way  of  proving  that  it  is  so.~~ 

What  I  always  objected  to  (although  nobody  ever 
asked  my  opinion  about  it,  I  kept  out  of  it),  was 
that  it  was  not  handled  according  to  really  scholarly 
standards.   It  was  accepted  as  being  what  it  was,  and 
it  became  a  matter  of  faith,  as  Charlie  had  said,  from 
the  very  beginning. 

Camp:     Yes.   It  was  $3500  worth  of  brass.   [laughter] 

Riess:    How  did  $3500  enter  into  it? 

Camp:     Well,  that's  what  they  paid  this  fellow  for  it. 

Stewart:  Somebody  paid  it  and  gave  it  to  the  University,  I 

Camp:     They  paid  this  man  that  found  it,  and  then  it  was 
given  to  the  Historical  Society,  and  [Allen  L. ] 
Chickering  I  guess — I  don't  know  just  what  happened 
after  that.  I  don't  know  just  how  it  got  into  the 

Stewart:   I  think  Chickering  gave  it  to  the  University.  And 
it's  down  there  still. 

Camp:     Oh,  yes.   Yes.   It  looks  pretty  good. 

Stewart:   Well,  it  may  be  all  right.  All  I  say  is  it  Just 
wasn't  a  good  way  to  go  about  the  thing. 

Camp:     Oh,  no.   The  announcement  of  it  was  very  bad,  of 

course.  The  whole  thing  was  very  badly  announced. 
Very  bad.  And  I  think  that's  what  Wagner  objected 
to  more  than  anything  else,  the  fact  that  it  was 


Camp:  announced  in  suoh  an  abrupt  way  without  proper — 

Stewart:  Wagner — what  position  did  he  take  on  it? 

Camp:  Well,  doubtful. 

Stewart:  Doubtful.   Yes? 

Camp:     Oh,  yes.  He  was  sceptical.  Of  course,  he  had  seen 
all  the  documents  regarding  the  voyage,  and  written 
a  treatise  on  the  voyage,  and  looked  over  the 
situation  pretty  thoroughly.  I  think  that  he  was 
really  sceptical  about  the  whole  darn  thing. 

Stewart:  According  to  Jim  Cline,  there's  one  interesting 

objection  made  to  it  from  the  English  point  of  view. 
I  think  he  spoke  to  people  in  the  British  Museum 
about  it,  and  they  said,  "Why,  Francis  Drake  wouldn't 
put  up  a  bunch  of  stuff  like  that  for  Queen  Elizabeth. " 
It  looks  as  if  you  or  I  took  a  hammer  and  a  cold 
chisel  and  put  those  letters  in  there. 

Camp:     That's  what  it  was  done  with.  A  cold  chisel. 

Stewart:  You  see,  Francis  Drake  would  have  had  an  armorer  on 
board,  and  if  he  was  going  to  put  up  a  plaque  for 
Queen  Elizabeth,  he  would  have  done  a  right  good  Job 
on  it. 

Camp:     Yes.  This  was  Just  a  crude  Job. 

Stewart:   Just  exactly  what  I  would  have  done  if  I  had  done  a 
thing  like  that,   [laughter] 

Camp:     Sure.  Yes.  What  we'd  have  done  down  in  our  cellar 
in  our  amateur  way. 

Stewart:  Did  you  have  any  idea  of  anybody  who  might  have — 

Camp:     Oh,  no,  except  there  was  an  outfit  called  the 

Tamalpais  Show  or  something.   Every  year  they  used 
to  have  sort  of  a  show  over  on  Mt.  Tamalpais,  a  kind 
of  a  pageant.  I  was  wondering  if  they  could  have  put 
up  something  in  the  way  of  a  plaque ,  you  know,  at  the 
time  they  had  this  pageant,   [laughter]   I  don't 
know.  Of  course,  that's  where  it  was  found.  It  was 
found  right  there  at  the  base  of  Tamalpais.  Well, 
anyway,  nobody  will  ever  know,  I  don't  suppose. 

Bless:    Does  this  really  amount  to  a  real  controversy?  Was 
there  a  lot  of  passion  on  both  sides? 

Camp:     Yes,  there  was  quite  a  bit  of  passion,  quite  a  bit 
of  argument,  and  there  was  quite  a  bit  of  feeling 
around  the  whole  thing,  I  think  more  than  it  deserved. 
Bolton  was  a  pretty  steady  sort  of  a  man,  and  I  don't 
think  that  Bolton  got  himself  worked  up  over  it  very 
much.   I  wrote  a  parody  on  it  which  was  supposed  to 
be  humorous,  you  know,  and  Lawton  [Kennedy]  printed 
it.   "Ye  preposterous  book  of  brass,"  or  something 
like  that,  we  called  it.  And  we  had  a  lot  of  fun 
with  that  thing.   I  gave  a  copy  to  Bolton.   I  thought, 
"I'll  see  what  the  old  boy  says  about  it."  And 
Bolton  said,  "Oh,  that's  good  fun,"  you  know.   He 
didn't  get  sore  about  it  in  the  least.  He's  a  good 

Stewart:  Well,  he  was  a  man  of  great  self-confidence,  I  think. 

Camp:     Oh,  yes.  He  didn't  need  to  worry  about  little  things 
like  that. 

Stewart:  If  he  had  decided  that  was  Drake's  plate,  why,  it 
didn't  make  any  difference  what  anybody  else  said 
about  it!  [laughing] 

Camp:     Yes.   Of  course  Bolton  was  a  great  enthusiast.  And 
he  got  a  little  too  enthusiastic  when  this  thing 
showed  up.  He  thought,  "Well,  here  it  is  at  last I" 
and  so  on. 

Stewart:  You  remember  George  Ezra  Dane,  don't  you? 
Camp:     Oh,  yes,  I  knew  George  very  well. 
Stewart:  Yes.  He  loved  a  hoax. 

Camp:     Oh!  Well,  George,  he  loved  to  put  over  some  sort  of 
a  hoax.  Yes.  Of  course.  But  I  don't  think  George 
had  anything  to  do  with  this  plaque  business. 



Riess:    Are  you  really  suggesting  that  this  was  a  hoax 
within  our  time? 

Stewart:  The  world  is  full  of  hoaxes  like  that. 

Riess:    But  hoaxes  that  aren't  revealed  aren't  hoaxes? 

Stewart:   Oh,  well,  sometimes  it  gets  so  a  man  doesn't  dare 
reveal  it!   Nobody  will  believe  him!   [laughing] 

Gamp:     The  Piltdown  skull.  That  was  one  where  the  guy  that 
put  it  over  didn't  dare  to  confess.  It  was  so 
successful,  the  hoax  was  so  successful,  and  so  many 
people  were  taken  in,  that  he  didn't  dare  to  confess. 

Old  George  Ezra  was  always  cooking  up  some  kind 
of  a  deal.  He  wanted  me  to  write  a  story  about  a 
monster  that  they'd  found  up  at  Pedro  Point.  You  see, 
he  had  a  cabin  down  at  Pedro  Point,  and  he  was  going 
to  write  this  stuff  for  the  newspapers,  you  know. 
He'd  started  it.  He'd  already  gotten  a  couple  of 
articles  in  the  newspapers  about  this  great  monster 
that  came  ashore  there  or  something. 

Stewart:   [laughing]   Well,  now,  if  you  have  a  man  like  that 
right  at  hand,  a  very  clever  man,  why  do  you  say 
offhand  that  he  had  nothing  to  do  with  the  Drake 

Camp:     Oh,  you  mean,  why  do  I  say  that  George  Ezra  had 

nothing  to  do  with  it?  I  never  even  thought  of  him 
in  that  connection.  Hmm!   Well,  now  you've  got  me. 
Of  course,  I'll  say  this,  that  when  Vanderhoof  went 
to  work  and  made  a  copy  of  it,  he  made  a  beautiful 
replica  for  the  tribe  up  there  at  Tuolomne,  the 
Mi  woks,  and  it  didn't  take  him  very  long  to  make  a 
duplicate  of  it.  Took  a  piece  of  brass,  and  he 
hammered  it  out,  and  made  the  letters  and  everything, 
and  put  the  lettering  on,  and  everything  was  very 
clever.  He  could  have  done  it  of  course,  but — 

Stewart:  You  would  have  had  to  get  hold  of  a  piece  of  old 
brass,  because  I  think  the  brass  is  old. 

Camp:     Well,  that  wouldn't  be  so  difficult. 



Stewart:  But  that  could  have  been  done  too.  There  are  some 
very  Interesting  things  about  it,  that  is  the  fact 
that  the  sixpence,  the  hole  for  the  sixpence,  is 
the  right  size  for  Elizabethan  sixpence,  and  not  for 
a  modern  sixpence.  But  after  all,  if  you're  going 
to  go  in  for  a  hoax,  that's  the  thing  you  do,  you 
know.  You  do  that  kind  of  thing. 

Camp:     They  looked  for  the  sixpence.  They  went  out  there 

and  dug  around,  expecting  to  find  it,  but  they  didn't. 
Well,  what  would  the  Indians  do  if  they  had  a  piece 
of  brass  of  that  sort?  Would  they  Just  leave  it 

Stewart:  I  don't  know  what  they — I  wondered  about  that. 

Camp:     I  wondered  myself.  I  was  wondering  here,  If  they  had 
a  piece  of  brass  attached  to  a  post,  and  the  post 
rotted  down  eventually,  after  a  hundred  years  or  so, 
wouldn't  they  use  that  thing  as  a  frying  pan,  or 
something?  They'd  make  some  sort  of  use  out  of  it. 

Stewart:  You'd  think  so,  yes. 

Camp:     Indians  are  pretty  clever  at  using  things  like  pieces 
of  metal.  They'd  chop  it  up  for  pieces — 

Stewart:  Arrow  points,  or  something  like  that. 

Camp:     Metal.  I  don't  know.  Something  fishy  about  it. 

Stewart:  Well,  we're  on  record  now.  You've  got  us  in  there 

Riess:    You  both  seem  to  be  able  to  Imagine  the  hoax  frame 

of  mind.   I  should  think  a  hoax-doer  would  eventually 
want  his  hoax  exposed. 

Stewart:  No,  no.   I  don't  think  that  holds  at  all. 
Riess:    Well,  what  kind  of  mentality? 

Stewart:  I  don't  know  exactly  what  it  is,  but  you  take — I 

brought  up  Mrs.  Plckett's  letters  in  my  reminiscences 
there,  you  see.  There's  another  case.  And  the  world 
is  full  of  those  things.  I  think  there's  a  type  of 
mind  that  likes  to  do  that  kind  of  thing,  and  they'll 
sometimes  go  to  immense  trouble. 


Gamp:     Yes,  an  enormous  amount  of  trouble.  Remember  at 

the  time  that  the  Drake  plaque  was  found,  there  were 
a  series  of  plaques  that  were  distributed  down  through 
the  desert.  Well,  I  don't  know  if  they  were  plaques. 
They  were  some  kind  of  metal  objects  that  were 
secreted  in  various  places,  and  were  supposed  to  be 
found  by  clairvoyance. 

Stewart:  Yes?  What  were  they  about? 

Camp:     Oh,  they  were  supposed  to  demonstrate  that  this  man 
had  a  certain  power  of  clairvoyance,  and  he  could 
tell  you  where  these  things  were  located.  He  knew 
beforehand  where  they  were  secreted,  under  rocks, 
and  out  in  toward  Death  Valley  and  everything.   And 
so,  he'd  say,  "Go  to  this  place  and  you'll  find  a 
certain  piece  of  metal  with  a  certain  inscription  on 
it."  And  they  did,  and  they  found  of  course  Just  as 
he  said.   In  other  words,  he  was  demonstrating  his 
power  as  a — 

Stewart:  He'd  been  around  and  planted  these  things  before! 
Camp:     Oh,  yes.  Yes,  he'd  planted  them. 

Stewart:  Well,  look  at  the  Kensington  Stone,  for  instance, 
about  the  Norse  people  in  America.  That's  never 
been  exposed  at  all.  I  mean,  it's  undoubtedly  a  hoax, 
or  a  fake  of  some  kind,  but  it's  never  been  exposed 
by  anybody  who  did  it. 

Camp:     What  about  that  plaque  that  was  found  at  Port  Pierre 
in  South  Dakota? 

Stewart:   Well,  I  think  that  one  may  have  been  true.  They 

have  found  some  of  them  of  course.  They  found  these 
lead  plates  in  Pennsylvania,  and  various  things. 
They  turn  up  occasionally.  Because  some  explorers 
did  bury  that  kind  of  stuff.  And  it's  perfectly 
reasonable  some  of  it  should  be  found. 

Camp:     That  was  another  thing.  Wagner  thought  they  should 
be  using  lead.  They  used  lead  so  often.  He  didn't 
think  they  used  brass  so  often.  They  put  up  lead 
plaques  to  make  it  much  easier  to  handle. 

Stewart:   Yes,  and  they  had  lead  with  them,  for  bullets, 

whereas  they  didn't  usually  carry  brass  so  much. 






Camp:     I'm  not  sure  but  that  Drake  did  put  up  a  lead  plaque 
somewhere  down  around  the  Straits  of  Magellan. 

Stewart:   Of  course,  I  always  figured  if  it  was  genuine,  we 
had  to  give  California  back  to  the  British,  didn't 

Camp:     Well,  that's  what  we  did  up  at  Tuolomne,  you  know. 
We  gave  it  back  to  the  Indians. 

Stewart:  We  gave  it  to  the  Indians  there.  That's  stretching 
a  point.   I  think  it  should  really  go  to  the  British. 

Sideways  to  history 



Stewart : 

Was  George  a  writer  when  you  met  him? 
him  as  a  writer,  or  as  a  dabbler? 

Did  you  see 

Well,  I  don't  know.  George  had  already  written  some 
things,  but  I  don't  know  that  I'd  ever  read  anything 
that  George  had  written.  I  thought  of  George  as  a 
very  interested  sort  of  an  enthusiast.  You  know,  you 
can  tell  right  away  whether  a  person  is  interested, 
when  they  begin  talking  about  a  subject,  the  questions 
asked,  and  the  way  they  talk  about  it.  And  it  was 
perfectly  obvious  that  he  was  thoroughly  interested 
in  this  subject  that  he  was  writing  about.  I  remember 
that  part  of  it.  He  was  very  enthusiastic  about  the 
whole  deal,  and  had  particular  questions  that  he 
wanted  to  know  about  the  Dormer  Party.  Whether  or  not 
I  could  answer  them  I  don't  remember,  but  I  know  that 
he  had  certain  definite  points  that  he  was  interested 
in,  and  seemed  to  me  to  be  well  taken.   This  is  the 
thing  that  impressed  me  at  the  time,  that  he  was  a 
man  who  was  really  getting  into  the  heart  of  his 
subject,  you  know,  getting  immersed  in  his  subject. 

That  was  probably  right  when  I  was  in  the  middle  of 
the  Donner  Party  research,  about  193^»  I  guess. 

I  wouldn't  be  surprised.  I  think  that  was  Just  about 
the  time.   I  know  it  was  in  the  Faculty  Club.   I 
remember  that  part  very  distinctly. 




Stewart:  Well,  have  you  got  another  question  to  throw  at  us? 

Riess:    Yes,  I  was  thinking  about  coming  at  California 

history  sideways;  if  you  Just  come  at  it  directly, 
it's  what  you  always  wanted  to  do,  does  that  make 
you  a  sort  of  plodding  kind  of  pedestrian  historian? 

Camp:     I  came  into  history  by  a  side  door,  you  might  say. 
I  studied  history  in  high  school,  English  history, 
and  successions  of  the  Popes  and  everything,  and  the 
kings  and  everything.   Oh,  it  never  took  with  me. 
And  I  came  up  here  and  I  took  Henry  Morse  Stephen's 
History-I  for  two  semesters,  and  boy,  I  didn't  care 
much  for  that.  And  I  certainly  didn't  get  interested 
in  history  through  taking  courses,  through  the 

I  got  interested  in  history  because  I  began 
reading  the  narratives,  by  the  side  door,  you  might 
say.   I  was  interested  in  finding  out  where  certain 
people  got  certain  things,  in  the  way  of  natural 
history  objects  mostly.  Say,  on  the  Long  expedition, 
for  instance,  in  1820,  in  the  front  range  of  the 
Rookies.   I'd  get  hold  of  the  narrative  and  read  the 
narrative.  Getting  these  narratives,  reading  the 
narratives,  why,  I  got  interested  in  the  history.   I 
think  that  was  inevitable. 

Herbert  Bolton 

Stewart:  My  history  is  pretty  much  the  same  as  that,  really, 
except  perhaps  I  had  more  interest  in  history  from 
the  beginning.  I  read  a  lot  of  history  when  I  was 
pretty  young,  and  I  took  history  in  high  school, 
but  I  enjoyed  it  tremendously.   In  college,  I  didn't 
take  any  course  in  history  at  all,  till  I  came  out 
here,  that  graduate  year  I  spent  in  Berkeley.  I  took 
a  course  with  Bolton,  who  got  me  very  much  interested 
in  Western  history.  So  I  came  into  it  from  another 
side  door.  And  I  think  it's  quite  interesting  it 
happened  that  way,  because  I  would  say — I  don't  know 
whether  I  got  your  question  straight  there,  but  I 
would  think  there  has  certainly  been  an  example  of, 



Stewart:   the  two  of  us,  of  people  who  came  in  unorthodoxly 

who  have  pursued  it  with  a  great  deal  of  enthusiasm. 
Whereas  if  you  take  Bolton's  Ph.D. 's,  they  don't 
have,  it  seems  to  me,  nearly  the  enthusiasm  or  the 
flair,  you  might  say,  that  the  two  of  us  have  shown. 
Now,  that's  a  pretty  big  generalization. 

Camp:     Well,  I  think  that  you  may  be  overstating  it, 
because  a  man  like  Leroy  Hafen,  who  was  one  of 
Bolt on fs  students,  has  put  out  a  tremendous  lot  of 

Stewart:  Yes,  he  has,  but  at  the  same  time,  it  never  seemed 

to  me  that  his  stuff  had  very  much  flair  to  it.  It's 
pretty  dull  writing  in  my  opinion. 

Camp:     Not  everybody  can  be  the  writer  that  you  are,  George. 
They  don't  have  it  in  them.  There  has  to  be  a 
certain  number  of  weeders  and  hoers  in  the  garden 
as  well  as  Burbanks,  I  suppose.  Some  ordinary 

Stewart:  Yes.  I  think  it  is  an  interesting  fact,  though,  that 
Bolt on  didn't  breed  anybody  that  came  up  to  himself 
at  all. 

Camp:     That  is  peculiar,  isn't  it? 

Stewart:  Yes.  I  suppose  of  these  dozens  of  people  that  he 

trained,  none  of  them  came  anywhere  near  to  attaining 
his  own  stature. 

Camp:     Of  course,  George  Hammond  comes  pretty  close. 

Bolton  had  a  tremendous  vigor.  You  know  he 
used  to  pile  books  alongside  his  bed  and  read  till 
three  o'clock  in  the  morning,  even  when  he  was  an 
old  man. 

Stewart:  He  not  only  read,  but  he  could  do  stuff  with  it  after 
he  read  it.  I  always  loved  the  story,  you  know, 
about  Bolton  in  the  library  one  night.  He  used  to 
work  in  his  office  until  all  hours,  and.  when  he  tried 
to  go  home  one  night  he  got  in  the  wrong  section, 
and  a  door  slammed  behind  him  and  locked  him  in. 
[laughter]  Did  you  hear  that  story,  Charlie? 


No,  I  didn't  hear  that. 



Stewart:  And  he  couldn't  get  out.  Well,  he  was  a  man  of  great 
resource,  and  of  course  he  was  used  to  roughing  it, 
you  know,  camping,  so  he  went  into  the  women's 
restroom.  He  figured  there  was  going  to  be  a  cot  in 
there.  Someway  or  other  he  was  too  modest  to  sleep  in 
the  ladies'  restroom,  so  he  took  the  mattress  off  the 
cot  and  put  it  out  in  the  hall,  and  lay  down  and  went 
to  sleep I  Had  a  good  sleep  until  the  watchman  came 
around  in  the  morning  and  found  the  professor  lying 
on  a  mattress  outside  the  ladies'  restroom.  He  woke 
him  up,  and  Bolton  got  up  and  went  home.   That's  a 
very  nice  story. 

Riess:    Did  he  tell  that  story  happily,  or  was  he  embarrassed 
about  it? 

Stewart:  I  don't  think  he  ever  told  me,  I  think  the  librarian 
told  me  that  story. 

Camp:     No,  I  don't  think  he'd  tell  you  that  story.  He  was 

Just  a  little  bit  sensitive  about  himself.  He's  say, 
"Now  don't  tell  that.  Don't  say..."  I  remember  one 
time  Carl  Wheat  and  I  were  figuring  on  writing  up  a 
deal  for  the  Historical  Quarterly  on  the  Russians  in 
California.  So  I  went  around  to  Essig  and  Du  Pour,  and 
Miss  Mahoney  and  some  others,  and  said  "Give  me  some 
articles."  I  knew  Du  Pour  had  written  this  thing, 
and  he  said,  "Well,  if  you  can  get  this  thing  from 
Bolton,  you  can  have  it,  but  I've  never  been  able  to 
get  the  manuscript  back  from  Bolton. " 

So  I  went  to  Bolton.   "What  about  Du  Four's 
manuscript?"  "Oh,"  he  says,  "yes,  that's  right,"  he 
says.   "I've  got  that  manuscript,  Camp,  I'll  get  it 
for  you.*  Six  weeks  went  by,  and  I  saw  Bolton  on  the 
campus.   I  said,  "What  about  Du  Pour's  manuscript?" 
"Oh,"  he  says,  "by  gosh,  I  forgot  about  that.   Come  on 
over  to  my  office  and  we'll  get  it  now." 

Well,  of  course,  his  office  was  stacked  high 
with  manuscripts  from  the  floor  to  ceiling,  and  we 
started  in.  I  started  in  at  one  corner,  and  went  on 
through  the  stack.  And  when  I  got  to  the  floor,  why, 
there  was  Du  Pour's  manuscript.  Meanwhile,  Bolton 
was  busy  over  in  the  other  corner  of  the  room.  So  I 
said,  "Well,  here,  I  guess  this  must  be  it."  "Oh," 
he  says,  "don't  tell  anybody  that.  The  old  professor, 
forgetting  these  things.   Pretty  bad."  He  said,  "I 
didn't  realize  it  was  down  there,  so  far  down,  buried 



so  far  down." 
you  any  I " 

[laughing]  I  said,  "I  don't  blame 




Stewart : 


He  never  answered  letters,  you  know.  You  could 
write  him  a  dozen  letters,  and  he'd  have  them  stacked 
up  in  his  mailbox  for  six  weeks.  He'd  never  answer 
any  letters.  Never  bothered. 

Oh,  he  was  really  a  unified  man.  I  spoke  about  him, 
Just  in  passing,  in  my  dictation  there,  but  I  remember, 
every  time  you'd  go  in  to  talk  with  Bolton,  maybe 
you'd  want  to  talk  with  him  about  the  Donner  Party  or 
something,  and  he'd  say,  "What  are  you  working  on 
these  days?"  "I'm  working  on  the  Donner  Party."  "Oh," 
he'd  say,  "that's  fine.   That's  Just  fine."  Then  I'd 
want  to  ask  him  a  question  or  something,  but  no  use. 
By  the  time  I  got  to  that,  he  was  talking  about  what 
he  was  doing.  And  the  rest  of  the  time  he  talked 
about  what  he  was  doing.  He  was  always  very  friendly, 
though,  and  Just  so  enthusiastic  about  what  he  was 
doing,  that  he  was  really  a  very  lovely  man. 

You're  answering  your  speculation  about  why  he  could 
never  breed  an  historian  as  fine  as  himself.  I  mean, 
you  could  have  gone  on,  free  of  this  influence,  but 
you're  describing  somebody  that's  so  fantastically 
bent  on  what  he  was  doing  himself  that  his  students — 

That  might  have  had  something  to  do  with  it. 

Well,  historians  that  can  write  don't  come  every  day 
in  the  week,  you  know.  Bolton  could  do  pretty  well 
as  a  writer. 

Yes,  he  could.  And  he  developed  as  an  older  man.  He 
did  much  his  best  writing  after  he  was  a  comparatively 
old  man. 

He  told  me  one  time,  "You  know  the  secret  of  this 
writing?"  I  said,  "No,  how  do  you  do  it?"  He  says, 
"I  never  write  more  than  one  paragraph  on  a  page. 
I  Just  write  off  the  paragraph,  throw  that  page  aside, 
and  then  if  I  have  to  correct  it,  why  I  don't  have 
much  to  do,  much  to  throw  away  or  much  to  change." 
[laughter]   "One  paragraph  to  a  page!"  That's  the 
way  he  did  it. 


Adventures  with  Charlie  and  George 

Riess:    Was  Charles  Camp  interesting  to  you  as  a  paleontologist 
when  you  first  met  him?  Did  you  talk  about  things 
like  that? 

Stewart:  No,  I  didn't.  I  didn't  know  much  about  paleontology, 
and  I  don't  think  I  ever  talked  to  him  very  much 
about  that  until  we  went  on  that  trip  up  in  Nevada 
and  he  was  crawling  down  holes  and  things  of  that 
sort.  I  was  waiting  for  him  to  come  back  and  wondering 
whether  he  was  coming  back,  in  some  instances.  I 
guess  Charlie  was  wondering  the  same  thing. 

Camp:     Well,  they  had  some  mines  in  conglomerate,  you  know, 

and  the  stuff  was  Just  hanging  loose  from  the  ceiling. 
You  could  Just  reach  up  and.  pick  off  a  big  chunk  if 
you  wanted  to,  or  it  would  drop  to  the  floor.  So  it 
was  kind  of  a  funny-looking  mine.  I  asked  this  guy 
who  was  down  there,  "How  often  do  you  get  buried  down 
in  here?  It's  a  dangerous  place."  He  says,  "I  got 
to  watch."  Another  place  we  went  in — there  at  Rabbit 
Hole  Springs — we  went  in  and  got  a  drink  that  evening, 
didn't  we?  And  then  we  came  out  the  next  morning  and 
looked  at  the  door  and  there  was  a  sign  on  the  door 
that  said — what  was  it?  "The  County  Health — " 

Stewart:   "This  water  is  contaminated  with  typhoid  fever  and 
arsenic."  [laughter]  If  the  one  didn't  get  you, 
the  other  would! 

Of  course,  I  never  believed  that!   I  thought 
that  was  another  hoax! 

Camp:     We  went  up  to  the  Rosebud  and  they  said,  "Oh,  if  you 
stay  there  six  weeks  you'll  get  some  kind  of  kidney 
trouble  or  something,  from  that  water."  Well,  we 
didn't  say  there  six  weeks,  so  we  didn't  have  to 

Riess:    The  trip  in  19*H  was  the  first  Black  Rock  trip? 
Stewart:  Yes,  July,  19^1,  Just  before  Pearl  Harbor,  you  see. 
Riess:    How  did  that  all  come  to  pass? 

Stewart:  Well,  Charlie  had  Just  come  back  from  China  not  long 
before,  hadn't  you  Charlie? 



Camp:     I  had  come  back  from  China  about  four  years  before 

that,  but  I  might  have  Just  come  back  from  some  place 
in  Utah  or  someplace.  At  any  rate,  you  were  the  one 
that  organized  this  trip.  You  had  it  all  arranged. 
I  mean,  you  had  it  all  outlined  what  you  wanted  to 
do.  And  I  didn't  have  much  of  any  idea  of  what  the 
country  was  like  up  there.  I'd  never  been  up  there 

Stewart:  Well,  I  hadn't  either.   I  remember  saying  to  you, 

"Charlie,  let's  take  a  trip  to  northwestern  Nevada," 
and  you  said,  "Sure."  So  we  went  to  northwestern 
Nevada.  That  was  a  great  trip.  We  went  up  first  to 
Hasaklas  Creek,  do  you  remember?  You  had  a  geological 
job  to  do  up  there.  Then  we  cut  across,  went  out  to 
Reno,  and  went  up  in  the  desert. 

We  had  a  copy  of  Delano's  book  along  with  us, 
one  of  those  reprints.  I  also  had  a  saw,  and  I  had 
some  tools  in  the  back  of  the  car.   (It  was  my  car 
we  took  along  that  time.)  And  this  was  a  main  library 
book,  which  I  shouldn't  have  taken  out  of  the  state. 
The  saw  got  against  the  book,  and  there  are  some  little 
saw-marks  in  that  book,  which  I  think  is  still  in  the 
main  library;  if  you  want  a  reminiscence,  why,  go  and 
look  up  Alonzo  Delano's  reprint  and  see  if  it  doesn't 
have  some  saw-marks.  Maybe  they've  rebound  it  by 
this  time. 

Camp:     Oh,  that's  Just  the  reprint.   It  didn't  do  any  harm. 
Riess:    What  were  you  after? 

Stewart:   I  had  Delano  along  and  I  was  sort  of  following  him, 
like  a  guidebook.   It  was  very  interesting,  because 
he  wrote  a  very  good  narrative,  in  1839»  and  you 
could  tell  where  he  went  pretty  well  by  driving  over 
the  road.   I  didn't  have  any  very  definite  ideas  of 
doing  anything  about  that.  I  just  wanted  to  get  off 
for  a  while. 

Riess:    And  you,  Charlie,  you  were  Just  going  out  on  one  of 
your  summer  expeditions  anyway? 

Camp:     Oh,  I  wanted  to  go  out  with  George.   I  had  never  been 
out  with  him,  and  I  thought  it  would  be  an  interesting 
place  to  see,  and  I  would  sort  of  like  to  travel  with 
him.  It  was  a  good  chance  to  see  a  part  of  the  country 
that  I  had  never  seen  before.  I  didn't  think  there 




Camp:     would  be  much  chance  of  finding  fossils  up  there. 
There  are  a  few.  Nevada's  full  of  fossils,  but 
they're  scattered.  Little  pockets  here  and  little 
pockets  there.  They  don't  usually  amount  to  much. 
But  you  never  know  what  you're  going  to  run  Into  next 
In  Nevada. 

Off  the  road 

Bless:    What  kind  of  car  were  you  driving,  and  what  kind  of 
campers  were  you? 

Stewart:  It  was  a  193?  Chevrolet.  It  was  a  good  car,  too. 
It  wasn't  very  new  by  that  time,  and  I  Just  marvel 
at  the  chances  we  took  on  that  car. 

Camp:     Yes,  there  were  two  or  three  places  there  we  shouldn't 
have  gone.  We  shouldn't  have  gone  across  that  mud 
flat,  and  we  shouldn't  have  gone  across  that  ditch  . 
that  day. 

Bless:    And  the  mud  flat? 

Stewart:  Well,  the  mud  flat  happened  to  be  all  right.  We  got 
across  very  easily — 

Camp:     It  happened  to  be,  yes,  but — 
Stewart:  But  we  didn't  really  know. 

Camp:     We'd  have  been  there  yet,  If  we'd  gotten  stuck  out 
In  the  middle  of  that  thing! 

Stewart:  Yes,  It  was  thirty-five  miles  to  walk  back. 
Camp:     Oh,  boy,  I'll  say  it  was. 

Stewart:  And  then  the  next  day  we  were  going  north  from  Black 
Bock  up  those  next  springs  there,  and  we  got  down 
into  a  kind  of  thing  like  a  great  big  ditch  about  ten 
feet  wide  at  the  bottom — 


Just  about  as  deep  as  this  room. 





Stewart : 



Stewart : 

Steep  sides  on  both  sides  of  It!   [laughing] 


Stewart : 

We  got  down  into  it,  all  right, 
how  do  you  get  out? 

Next  question  was, 

We  went  out  and  did  a  little  spade  work,  I  think, 
and  then  I  took  the  old  Chevrolet  on  the  run,  and 
Woop!  the  wheels  spinning  round — 

Moved  out  of  there,  all  right. 

And  got  her  out.   Oh,  we  went  on  beyond  that.  We 
took  chances  all  the  time.   I  just  wouldn't  have 
nerve  to  do  that  any  more  at  all I 

You  camped  out  all  along  the  way? 

Oh,  yes.  We  didn't  have  anyplace  to  stay, 
all  our  own  camping  stuff,  though. 

We  had 

I  don't  think  we  had  a  tent.  We  had  a  pressure-cooker, 
though.  That's  what  we  used  to  cook  in. 


Oh,  yes,  we  had  a  pressure-cooker.  You  betcha.  Every 
thing  went  into  the  pressure-cooker.  I  think  George 
said  something  to  Ted  about  how  terrible  my  cooking 
was,  and  Ted  was  talking  about  it  afterwards,  she  was 
talking  to  some  woman  about  it,  and  she  said,  "Oh, 
George  got  so  sick  of  Charlie's  tomatoes.  He  put 
tomatoes  in  everything!" 

I  don't  remenber  that.  I  remember  you  being  a  very 
good  cook,  except  you  cooked  too  much,  and  I  couldn't 
face  so  much  stuff  to  eat.   Charlie's  got  a  much  more 
hearty  appetite  than  I  have. 

Well,  I  may  have  had  then,  but  I  don't  now. 

I  had  this  stuff  to  drink.  You  know,  if  you  taste 
this  desert  water,  it's  terrible,  but  if  you  take  a 
gallon  of  wine  along  and  put  about  one  third  wine  in 
the  water,  it  makes  it  quite  palatable.  And  we  did 
a  lot  of  drinking  on  that. 

We  went  to  Black  Rock,  and  then  the  next  spring 
up  is  called  Casey's  Place.  We  went  up  there.  And 
then  we  went  on  up  to  Double  Hot.  There  are  two  very 
hot  springs  that  come  out.  Then  from  there  we  out 
across  some  land  without  any  road  at  all,  if  I  remember, 


•     • 


Camp:     Mud  springs. 

Stewart:   Came  to  a  little  ranch  up  there.  There  were  some 
people  working  out  in  the  hay  field.  That  was  the 
first  people  we'd  seen. 

Camp:     Soldier's  Meadows. 

Stewart:  Went  on  to  Soldier's  Meadows  and  then  across  by 

another  terrible  road  into  High  Rock  Canyon.  And 
then  finally  we  got  up  into  that  antelope  reservation. 
Just  full  of  antelope.  Remember?  We  slept  one  night 
up  there  in  the  middle  of  all  the  antelope. 

Hiess:    Was  it  an  emigrant  trail  that  you  were  following? 

Stewart:  More  or  less,  yes.  We  couldn't  follow  it  all  the 

way  through,  but  from  Rabbit  Hole  Springs  to — well, 
way  up  to  High  Rook  Canyon  we  were  more  or  less 
following  It,  yes. 

Camp:     We  went  out  to  the  middle  of  the  Black  Rock  Desert 
and  found  this  thing  full  of  water,  this  old 

Stewart:  The  old  Quinn  River  Slough,  yes. 

Camp:     Yes.  We  couldn't  cross  that,  so  we  had  to  go  back 

and  go  clear  on  around,  and  then  we  came  back  to 

that  point,  didn't  we?  Prom  Black  Rock.  We  really 
covered  it  pretty  well.  Yes. 

Stewart:  At  that  time  the  place  up  there  was  full  of  obsidian 
points  and  clippings.  Hardly  anybody  had  been  up 
in  there.  It's  pretty  well  picked  up  now.   I  told 
you  [in  the  interviews]  about  the  guy  at  the  cocktail 
party  bringing  me  this  thing. 

Riess:    Did  he  [George  Stewart]  really,  the  next  morning,  say 
that  he  could  write  a  book  about  It? 

Camp:     Well,  I  think  he  did.  Yes,  I  think  he  was  figuring 
on  a  book  at  that  time,  but  I  didn't  know — of  course, 
he  didn't  know  either  just  exactly  how  he  was  going 
to  handle  it. 


The  house  at  Sheep  Rock 

Gamp:     There  was  this  old  house  there,  and  it  was  entirely 
out  of  place,  because  it  was  a  pretty  well-built 
old  house.  It  wasn't  exactly  a  cabin,  it  was  a  well- 
constructed  house. 

Stewart:  Built  of  railroad  ties,  mostly,  Charlie. 

Camp:     Pull  of  old  rats,  you  know — the  rats  had  been  in 
there  and  built  nests  in  the  shelves,  all  through 
the  shelves.  And  the  pipes  leading  out  from  the  spring 
were  all  covered  with  this  encrusted  stuff  from  the 
spring,  this  lime  that  came  out  of  the  hot  water.  They 
had  a  place  out  on  the  porch  with  the  bathtub  where 
the  water  had  come,  they  pumped  the  water  out  of  this 
hot  spring  and  out  to  the  bathtub.  Evidently  he  was 
some  kind  of  a  crank  or  a  sick  man  or  something,  and 
he  had  this  place  out  there  to  take  this  hot  bath.   I 
guess  he'd  probably  gone  out  there  for  his  health, 
from  the  looks  of  things.  And  then  that  place  burnt 
down  later,  didn't  it?  Well,  that  was  a  very 
interesting-looking  place. 

Stewart:   I  found  that  fellow  later,  Charlie. 
Camp:     Oh,  you  did? 

Stewart:  Yes,  he  was  over  in  Susanville,  and  I  had  a  talk  with 
him.  He  had  gone  out  there  in  the  Depression  to  get 
himself  through.  He  had  a  wife  and  at  least  one  child. 

Camp:     Was  he  sick  or  something?  To  go  out  there? 

Stewart:  No,  he  wasn't  sick.  There  are  a  lot  of  self-reliant 
fellows  around,  particularly  in  those  days. 

Camp:     Did  he  build  that  house? 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  think  he  did.  He  carted  railroad  ties  over 
the  railroad,  and  got  that  house  up  there.  He  had 
all  these  ingenious  things,  like  that  hot  water 
business  you  were  talking  about.  He  was  a  very 
ingenious  chap. 

I  found  the  old  water  pitcher  up  there  later.   I 
didn't  find  that  on  our  trip,  Charlie.  I  pieced  the 
pitcher  together. 


Camp:     Oh,  yes,  I  know.  Looks  like  something  that  came 
out  of  an  old  hotel. 

Riess:    How  do  you  think  the  place  burned  down? 

Stewart:  Oh,  I  found  out  about  that.  Somebody  up  there 

started  to  burn  the  meadow  off  when  it  got  dry,  and 
it  got  over  and  got  into  the  house,  and  Just  burned 
it  up.  The  place  had,  I  guess,  a  hundred  old  records 
in  it,  and  I  always  meant  to  pick  them  up  and  bring 
them  back,  just  for  interest.  They  were  mostly 
records  of  the  twenties  and  thirties,  phonograph 
records.  They  might  have  been  worth  quite  a  bit  of 
money  if  I'd  ever  got  them  out  of  there.  But  by  the 
time  I  went  up  and  really  decided  I  was  going  to  get 
them,  why,  the  house  had  burned  down,  and  of  course 
they'd  all  burned  with  it. 

Yes,  I  found  that  fellow  and  had  a  talk  with 

Camp:     How'd  you  find  him? 

Stewart:  Oh,  somebody  up  there,  one  of  those  ranchers  one 

place  or  another,  said,  "Oh,  he's  over  in  Susanville, 
and  his  name's  such  and  such."  When  I  went  over 
there  he  was  cutting  meat  in  a  butcher  shop.  He 
talked  to  me,  and  he  was  quite  interested.  It  seemed 
to  me  he  had  a  pretty  poor  Job,  but  he  said,  "Oh,  you 
should  have  seen  me  when  I  was  over  at  that  place. 

I  didn't  have  anything  at  all.  Now  I've  got  a  fine 
job  here."  So  here  he  was  cutting  his  meat. 

Hiess:    Did  that  place  get  to  him  at  all? 

Stewart:  Well,  not  at  hia  present  stage.  No,  he  was  glad  to  get 
away  from  it.  That  was  his  exile,  I  think. 

Camp:     One  of  the  funniest  things,  most  curious  things,  on 

that  trip  was  when  we  stopped  at  Gerlach,  and  we  went 
around  to  all  the  different  saloons  and  everything, 
to  ask  the  directions  out  to  Black  Rock.  Not  a  soul 
knew,  until  one,  we  finally  found  one  guy  that  could 
tell  us.  And  of  all  the  people  that  we  met  at 
Gerlach,  of  all  the  little  bits  of  towns  you  know, 
right  in  the  middle  of  nowhere  out  there,  and  within 
forty  miles  of  the  place  we  wanted  to  go  to,  none  of 
them  could  tell  us  where  the  road  was  that  went  out 
there.  Don't  you  remember  that? 





Stewart : 
Stewart : 


Stewart ; 

Stewart  i 

Yes,  sure  I  do.   Yes. 

Remember  the  fellow  that  said  you  kicked  him  all 
night?  [laughter]  He  claimed  that  George  had  been 
sleeping  with  him  the  night  before  and  kicked  him 
all  night,   [laughter]  I  thought  that  was  real  funny! 
Oh,  you  know,  those  fellows — after  they  drink  a  little 
they — never  know  what  they're  doing. 

I  think  the  guy  was  drunk,  [laughter] 
dream  had  come  from  outside. 

I  think  the 

Did  that  give  you  some  kind  of  indication  that  you 
were  going  to  a  strange  place? 

It  certainly  did.  Yes.  Driving  up  there  was  like 
steering  a  boat.  You  see,  we  drove  up  along  the  west 
side  of  the  desert  there.  There  were  little  car 
tracks  going  along,  and  we  could  see  the  Black  Rock 
across  the  desert.  We  knew  that  was  where  we  were 
trying  to  get  to.  And  it  was  anything  from,  say,  five 
to  eight  miles  across  there.  And  finally  we  decided 
we'd  gone  far  enough,  and  we  Just  turned,  and  went 
right  across  this,  Just  steering  for  the  Black  Rock. 

[laughing]   "Let's  head  out  for  it!"  We  didn't 
realize  the  darned  thing  would  be  muddy  in  the  middle. 
That  was  the  last  thing  we  thought  of.  Of  course  we 
know  now  that  the  water  gets  onto  those  flats  and 
blows  around.  The  wind '11  come  and  it'll  blow  the 
water  five  or  six  miles  in  some  places.  And  you 
know,  it'll  go  to  a  low  place  and  stay  there  and  make 
mud.  If  you  get  into  that  mud,  with  your  car,  why, 
you  might  have  to  kiss  your  car  goodbye. 

I'm  amazed  we  ever  got  that  car  back!   We  did. 

I  guess  Ted  didn't  think  it  was  in  such  good  shape 
when  we  got  it  back. 

Probably  didn't,  no.  They  were  tough  cars  they  made 
in  those  days,  though. 

Yes,  it  was  a  pretty  nice  little  car.  That's  the 
way  to  travel.  These  people  who  go  out  with  trailers 
and  everything,  never  get  anywhere  like  that. 




Later  trips,  other  companions 









Speaking  of  Ted,  where  were  the  wives  and  children  on 
these  expeditions?  Did  they  have  any  interest  in 
going,  or  was  that  inconceivable? 

Oh,  we  used  to  take — I  used  to  take  Jessie  and  the 
kids.  Oh,  sure.  We  used  to  go  out  to  New  Mexico 
and  go  out,  you  know,  into  the  badlands  of  New  Mexico. 
I'd  go  down  to  the  second-hand  lots  and  get  an  old 
limousine  of  some  sort,  a  seven-passenger  oar,  buy  it 
for  about  $100,  get  an  old  Cadillac  or  something  like 
that,  take  the  cylinder  heads  off  and  put  in  a  new 
gasket,  chip  out  the  carbon  and  put  in  a  new  gasket, 
and  the  thing  would  go  for  six  thousand  miles  and 
never  have  any  trouble.  I  had  two  of  them.  I  had 
two  Cadillacs  on  one  trip.  Both  of  them  were  these 
big  limousines.  And  another  time  I  got  the  last  of 
the  Pierce -Arrows.  By  gosh,  I  wish  I  had  that  car 
today!   I  could  get  twenty-thousand  dollars  for  it! 
Gee,  it  was  a  wonderful  oar.  My  gosh,  it  would  roar 
down  the  line  like  a  bull  elephant. 

You  sound  very  resourceful, 
person  to  go  camping  with. 

I've  been  camping  a  lot. 

You  sound  like  a  good 

Yes,  I've  done  a  lot  of 

Without  having  a  good  man  like  Charlie  along,  I  would 
never  have  dared  go  into  those  places  I  did  on  that 

Well,  perhaps  I  could  get  foolish, 

I  don't  know,  I 

We  were  foolish.  I  don't  know  if  we  got  that  way  or 

Did  you  talk  about  what  the  place  really  meant  that 
first  night,  or  was  it  only  subsequently  that  you 
got  into  thinking  about  it?  [See  Sheep  Rock] 

Stewart:  I  don't  remember  particularly,  do  you  Charlie? 
Camp :     No . 


Stewart:  We  were  a  little  bit  nervous  about  how  we  were  going 
to  get  out  of  the  place. 

Camp:     Yes,  I  know.   That's  the  thing  that  we  worried  about 
sometimes.   Yes.   I  don't  know. 

Riess:    That  was  your  only  Joint  trip  to  Black  Rock? 

Stewart:   Yes.   Then  Parker  Trask  and  Carl  Sauer  and  Starker 
Leopold  went  there  in  one  trip.  And  of  course  they 
could  tell  you  practically  everything  there  was  to 
be  known  about  the  place  between  them.  Then,  in  19^-7 
and  19^-8,  I  was  up  there  with  Jack,  my  boy,  a  couple 
of  times,  and  I  was  up  there  with  a  couple  of  young 
anthropologists  Carl  lent  me  from  his  department. 

Camp:     Oh,  well,  didn't  you  find  a  better  road  to  get  in 

Stewart:  The  road  was  all  right.   It  just  goes  right  across 
the  salt  flats,  that  was  all. 

Camp:     Oh,  you  went  across  there?  The  last  time  you  went  in 
you  went  across  the  mud  flat. 

Stewart:   Yes,  just  the  way  we  did  except  by  that  time  we  knew 
we  could  get  there.  The  last  time  I  was  up  there  I 
was  with  John  Edwards  and  Jim  Holiday.   Jim  wanted 
to  see  the  place  because  his  emigrating  party  went 
through  there,  and  John  had  read  Sheep  Rook  and  he 
was  interested  in  it,  so  the  three  of  us  went  up 
there.   We  didn't  stay  very  long  that  time.   In  fact 
the  road  was  so  heavy  we  didn't  drive  quite  to  the 
spring.   We  had  to  leave  the  car  down  a  couple  of 
hundred  yards  and  walk  up.   We  didn't  spend  the  night 
that  time. 

Riess:    Your  trips  have  been  at  different  seasons  too? 

Stewart:  Yes.  I  was  never  up  there  in  the  winter,  really.  I 
have  some  regard  for  my  safety!   I  started  up  once 
from  Reno.  I  was  going  to  drive  up  as  far  as  Gerlach 
anyway.   The  road  was  absolutely  lonely,  and  covered 
with  snow.   I  got  up  about  halfway,  and  I  said,  "This 
is  crazy,"  because  I  had  my  wife  and  my  daughter  and 
one  of  her  friends  along.   I  said,  "This  is  crazy." 
So  I  turned  around  and  came  back. 


Camp:     I  should  think  it  would  be  a  little  bit  chilly  up 
there  in  the  wintertime. 

Stewart:  And  then  another  time,  I  started  in  with  my  wife 

from  the  other  side,  Susanville,  and  drove  over  part 
way.  And  then  we  heard  that  the  whole  desert  was 
under  water.  This  was  early  in  the  season.  And  so 
we  didn't  get  there  that  time.  That's  the  reason  I 
dedicated  that  book  to  my  wife,  you  know,  who  I  said 
was  very  close  to  it.  Which  has  a  double  meaning, 
because  she  was  close  to  it  twice  and  never  got  there. 
We  could  look  across  the  desert  and  see  the  rock.  No 

Riess:    Gerlach  is  the  equivalent  of  Harlan  in  the  book? 

Stewart:  Yes,  I  guess  so.   I  don't  remember.  Gerlach' s  a 

little  town  on  the  railroad  down  there,  near  a  cement 
mill.  Pretty  abandoned  little  town.  There  really  is 
not  much  there. 

Camp:     Oh,  it's  Just  a  rough  little  town. 

Stewart:  Yes.  Parker  Trask  was  a  lot  of  help  on  all  that 

country.  He  wrote  me  a  whole  report  on  the  geology 
of  that  country. 

Camp:     Oh,  he  did?  Well,  what's  the  Black  Rock?  Sort  of  a 
volcanic  mountain,  isn't  it? 

Stewart:  Oh,  yes,  it's  volcanic.  That  was  a  mere  detail  for 
him.   He  was  clear  back  way  beyond  that. 

My  son  is  doing  the  map  for  all  Nevada  now, 
editing  the  U.S.  Geological  Survey  map.  He'll  be 
two  or  three  more  years  on  it,  I  guess.  He  goes  back 
every  summer.  But  he's  not  much  Interested  in  that 
corner  of  Nevada.  I  guess  somebody  else  has  done  all 
the  work  on  it. 

Camp:     I  don't  think  that  that's  so  interesting  to  the 

geologists  as  this  big  overthrust.  There's  a  hundred 
mile  overthrust,  you  know,  that  goes  out  towards  the 
Roberts  Mountains.   Part  of  California  is  supposed  to 
have  been  pushed  over  into  Nevada,  like  a  moving 
sidewalk.  Geologists  seem  to  be  interested  in  this 



Stewart:  Oh,  yes,  hefs  interested  in  a  lot  of  that  stuff. 
They've  had  some  very  eminent  men  working  on  the 
geology  of  Nevada.  Jack  just  has  to  coordinate  all 
this  stuff,  which  is  a  big  Job. 

Camp:     Yes.  Well,  there  are  a  hundred  mountain  ranges  in 
Nevada,  some  of  which  haven't  been  worked  on  very 
much.  But  that  little  place  of  mine  out  there — 
Muller's  student,  Silberling,  had  a  thesis  on  that 
area.  He  published  it,  and  so  that's  all  taken  care 

Stewart:   Well,  are  you  going  to  ask  us  another  question  now? 

'...write  the  way  George  does' 

Riess:    I'd  like  to  have  you  talk  of  the  ways  you've  Influenced 
each  other,  calling  George  the  Poet,  and  you  the 
Scientist,  or  some  such. 

Stewart:  Well,  he's  a  poet  too.  That  book  of  his.  Earth  Song. 
But  I  don't  know  that  we  influenced  each  other  very 

Camp:     No,  I  don't  think  so.   I  think  that  there's  always 
been  in  the  back  of  my  head  the  wish  that  I  could 
write  the  way  George  does.  You  know,  he  can  sit  down 
with  a  dictaphone  and  Just  spiel  it  off.  And  then  get 
somebody  to  type  it  for  him  and  then  he's  got  a  book, 
you  see. 

Stewart:  Well,  I  do  a  lot  of  work  after  that  too. 

Camp:     Do  you? 

Stewart:  But  still,  I  can  make  a  start. 

Camp:     Boy,  it  takes  me  hours  and  hours  to  get  anything 

done.  Days  and  days  and  all  that,  frightfully  slow. 



HI ess:    You've  been  members  of  some  interesting  clubs. 
Stewart:  Yes,  we  first  met  in  that  Polio  Club,  which  folded. 

Camp:     And  then  we  had  this  Armchair  Strategists  group. 

[See  Stewart  interview.]  And  now  we've  got  this  other 
club  that  we're  in. 

Riess:    This  third  club  is  the  one  you  refer  to  as  your  dinner 
club.  Does  it  have  a  name? 

Stewart:  Yes,  dinner  club. 

Camp:     It's  a  dinner  club.  We've  had  several  names  for  it 
but  we  don't  stick  to  any  name.  There  is  always  an 
objection.   If  they  call  it  the  East  Bay  Club,  why 
the  west  bay  people  don't  like  the  idea,  and  so  on 
and  so  forth.  So,  there  has  never  been  a  permanent 

Riess:    What  was  the  Folio  Club? 

Camp:     Oh,  that  was  a  book  club.  It  was  organized  by  Sam 
Parquhar  originally.  And  I  think  Harold  Leupp  had 
something  to  do  with  it.   I  think  the  idea  was  to  get 
people  that  are  interested  in  old  books,  or  bookbinding, 
illustrating*  See,  Sam  was  the  head  of  the  University 
Press.  And  he  was  Interested  in  meeting  the  people 
in  the  University  that  were  interested  in  printing,  and 
having  printing  done.  Sam  was  a  very  convivial  sort 
of  a  guy,  and  he  was  a  genius  for  meeting  people  and 
getting  people  together.  He  was  Francis  Parquhar 's 
brother,  you  know.  So,  he  organized  this  group,  and 
I  think  he  had  something  to  do  with  organizing  the 
Roxburghe  Club  in  San  Francisco  too.   That  was  another 
book  club. 

The  Folio  Club  was  interesting  for  a  while,  but 
when  you  have  a  group  that's  confined  to  a  certain 
interest,  why  that  interest  sort  of  dies  out  after  a 
while.  You  wear  it  out;  interest  Just  in  books  or 
bookmaking  tends  to  wear  out.   I  may  be  mistaken  about 
that,  but  to  me  you  certainly  can  overdo  it  a  little 
bit.  It  seemed  to  me  that  there  was  a  little 
difficulty  in  getting  papers  and  so  on  for  the  meetings. 


Camp:     I  was  president  of  it  for  a  while,  then  Harold  Leupp 
took  it  over.  I  was  away,  and  when  I  came  back  it 
sort  of  disintegrated.  The  whole  thing  went  to 

Stewart:  Yes,  that's  about  it,  the  way  it  went. 

Riess:    In  a  group  like  that  the  interest  isn't  so  much  in 

the  material  in  the  book  but  in  the  thing,  the  object? 

Camp:     Well,  I  think  in  the  people  too,  to  find  out  what 

they're  doing.  I  think  my  interest  in  the  beginning 
was  to  find  out  what  different  people  in  the  University 
were  doing  and  what  they're  Interested  in.  like  Harold 
Small  and  people  like  that.  There  were  a  lot  of  people 
I  didn't  know  very  well. 

I  think  you  could  say  the  same  thing  for  the 
Cosmos.  Well,  you're  in  the  Cosmos  Club  too.  In  the 
Cosmos  Club  you've  got  a  group  there  that  has  a  wide 
spread  of  interests,  varied  Interests.  I  think  that's 
part  of  the  attraction  of  the  group,  the  fact  that 
there  are  so  many  different  things  that  people  are 
Interested  in,  and  you're  sometimes  surprised  to  find 
out  what  people  are  interested  in,  besides  their 
specialties.  I  like  to  go  to  the  Cosmos  Club.  I'm 
usually  sitting  across  from  Heizer  or  somebody  like 
that,  that  I  can  usually  carry  on  a  pretty  good  con 
versation  with.   I  see  them  once  a  month.  I  don't 
go  out  so  much  as  I  used  to  but  I  certainly  used  to  go 
to  the  Cosmos  Club  frequently. 

Stewart:  I  go  to  it  pretty  regularly  because  it  gives  me  a 

good  tie  with  the  University,  which  I  don't  have  so 
much  any  more,  living  across  the  bay. 

Camp:     Well,  I'm  going  to  try  to  get  out  to  it  more  now.   I 
haven't  being  going  out  quite  so  much  lately. 

Riess:    The  men  in  the  club  are  more  interested  in  their 
hobbies  than  their  specialties? 

Stewart:  No,  most  of  the  papers  are  about  the  men's  own  work, 
the  serious  work.  And  a  good  many  of  them  are  too 
specialized,  really. 

Camp:     I  don't  think  the  papers  are  the  thing  that  interests 

me  so  much  in  the  Cosmos  Club,  at  least  usually  they're 



Camp:     not;  it's  the  conversation  at  the  table.  Used  to 
be  some*  pretty  lively  conversation  when  you  had 
people  like  Gilbert  .Lewis.,  people  like  that  there. 

Stewart:  It's  a  group  that  includes  members  from  all  over  the 
University,  that's  what's  interesting  about  it. 

Camp:     Ernest  Lawrence  used  to  belong  to  that.   I  remember 

one  meeting  along  Just  about  the  time  the  war  started, 
when  he  said,  "If  I  had  a  lump  of  this  stuff,  as  big 
as  my  fist,  it  would  be  too  dangerous  to  handle.  It 
might  blow  up  the  whole  East  Bay."  I  thought,  "Now 
what  in  the  devil  is  he  talking  about?"  Well,  it  was 
the  beginning  of  atomic  fission.  And  he'd  gotten 
started  on  it  here. 

I  talked  to  Latimer  one  day  about  it  and  he 
said,  "They're  scared  that  the  Germans  are  going  to 
get  it  before  we  do."  Soon  they  shut  up,  everybody 
clammed  up  about  it,  nobody  would  talk  about  it  any 
more.  It  was  very  serious  business. 

The  library ,  then 

Riess:    Any  comments  on  the  library,  changes  in  it? 

Camp:  Yes,  that's  another  subject  where  we'd  probably  come 
together  quite  a  bit.  On  the  library  committee  too; 
you  see,  George  took  over  Just  after  I  was  chairman, 
didn't  you? 

Stewart:  Yes,  we  were  on  the  committee  together,  I  think. 

Camp:     I  think  so,  and  then  you  took  over.   I  think  there 

was  some  criticism  of  me  because  I  didn't  call  enough 
of  the  subjects  to  the  attention  of  the  committee. 
But  there  was  one  reason  for  that;  you  know,  at  the 
time  I  was  there  they  were  Just  starting  this  thing 
down  at  Alamo  in  New  Mexico.  And  that  had  to  be 
kept  quiet.  And  so  Oppenheimer  came  to  me  one  day 
and  he  said,  "I  want  all  the  physics  library  moved 
down  to  the  desert,  and  nobody's  to  know  about  this. 
Your  library  committee  is  not  to  know  about  it.  The 


Camp:     only  man  to  know  is  the  librarian,  and  he  can  have 
his  people  working  on  it." 

So  I  said,  "All  right,  you're  the  boss."  I 
went  over  to  the  physics  department  to  find  out  how 
much  duplication  there  was  on  the  physics  books. 
(You  know,  I  didn't  want  to  take  the  whole  business, 
naturally. )   I  found  out  that  there  was  a  good  deal 
of  duplication,  that  they  could  get  along  pretty  well 
if  we  rooted  out  most  of  the  things  that  they  needed 
in  the  desert,  or  wherever — I  didn't  know  where  this 
place  was.   I  know  now  where  it  was  of  course,  but 
at  that  time,  I  had  no  idea  where  this  place  was. 

So  I  didn't  say  anything  to  the  library  committee, 
because  I  was  asked  not  to.  But  that  was  done  Just 
the  same,  they  did  the  job  and  sent  the  books  down. 
It  was  the  beginning  of  Los  Alamos. 

Stewart:   It's  very  interesting  that  they  consulted  with  you 
on  that,  as  the  chairman  of  the  library  committee. 
There  are  very  few  universities  where  they  would  have 
done  that. 




Stewart : 


That  might  be  true. 

That  shows  the  prestige  of  the  senate. 

Possibly  so.   It  might  have  been  a  piece  of  courtesy 
on  the  part  of  Oppenheimer. 

It  might  have, 

But  even  so,  I  think  that  it's  rather 

I  think  he  was  essentially  a  courteous  man,  you  know. 
It  might  have  been  that  he  had  a  certain  idea  of 
protocol  or  courtesy  or  something.   I  don't  know.  I 
never  did  know  just  exactly  why  he  did  that. 

In  most  universities  I  think  that  would  have  been 
handled  right  from  the  president's  office  right 
straight  down.   Oh,  they  probably  would  have  told  the 
librarian,  because  they'd  have  to  tell  him.  Under 
war  conditions  I  think  an  organization  like  the  senate 
committee  would  not  have  been  consulted.  I  think 
that's  interesting. 


Stewart:       I  was  chairman  Just  the  year  after  you  were, 
Charlie.   I  had  a  very  uneventful  year,  I  can't 
remember  much  of  anything  that  happened. 

Camp:     Weren't  they  moving  the  library  then?  I  had  quite 
an  eventful  year,  or  two  years,  because  they  were 
planning  the  extension,  the  annex  and  everything, 
ripping  down  north  hall  and  putting  in  the  annex, 
the  Bancroft  Library  and  everything. 

Stewart:   I  didn't  have  much  to  do  with  that.   I  can't  remember 
much  of  anything  I  did  in  my  year,  except  I  sort  of 
broke  Don  Coney  into  the  Job.   I  was  chairman  of  the 
committee  when  he  came  as  a  librarian.  And  also, 
George  Hammond  came  in  then. 

Camp:     Yes,  I  was  on  the  committee  that  brought  George 
Hammond  in. 

Stewart:   I  was  too,  we  were  on  about  the  same,  or  at  least 
we  were  probably  on  it  successively. 

Camp:     That  was  the  one  good  thing  that  we  did,  I  thought. 

Of  course  there  was  a  great  problem  then,  and  I  don't 
know  but  that  the  problem  is  still  with  the  library: 
The  question  is,  how  many  branch  libraries  should  they 
establish  in  order  to  relieve  the  main  library  of  a 
great  deal  of  encumberance  in  the  way  of  stack  space. 
We  used  to  meet  with  the  architects  quite  often 
because  they  were  planning,  or  trying  to  develop  plans 
as  to  whether  to  go  into  the  botanical  garden  part 
or  the  sunken  places  across  from  the  library  building, 
or  to  take  over  Wheeler  Hall,  or  to  do  this,  or  some 
thing  else,  in  order  to  make  an  annex.  Now  what  they 
did  eventually  was  to  put  in  the  annex,  and  I  think 
they  did  the  right  thing. 

But  they  were  worried  because  of  the  enormous 
amount  of  stack  space  that  is  required  for  all  the 
additions  that  are  made  every  year.  Every  year  there 
are  several  miles  of  stack  space  required,  that  is  if 
you  count  every  tier.   Several  hundred  thousand  volumes 
a  year,  perhaps  three  hundred  thousand  volumes.  They 
had  it  all  figured  out  that  they'd  need  a  bewildering, 
astonishing  amount  of  new  space  every  year.  Our 
prediction  for  the  future  was  something  terrible 
(predictions  were  made  as  to  what  would  happen).  Of 
course,  eventually  they  went  up  to  Richmond  and  they 
put  in  a  storage  space  up  there.   They  had  the  big 


Camp:     storage  space  that  they  have  now  up  In  Richmond, 

and  they  can  move  things  back  and  forth,  clumsy  way 
to  do  it. 

Riess:    I  think  a  lot  of  time  with  those  problems  would  tend 
to  make  you  kind  of  anti -collecting  and  anti-library, 
eventually.  I  should  think  it  would  be  hard  to  be 
chairman  of  a  library  committee  for  long. 

Camp:     Well,  I'll  tell  you  frankly  that  the  thing  that 

discouraged  me  more  than  anything  else  was  seeing 
the  mutilation  of  books  in  the  library,  to  go  through 
the  library  and  pick  up  a  book  like,  say,  Whitman  or 
Melville,  or  any  of  the  standard  books  that  students 
use,  and  see  the  tremendous  amount  of  damage  that's 
done  to  the  books.  It's  Just  awful.  It's  just 
sickening  to  see  that.  And  it  makes  you  wonder  whether 
it's  worthwhile,  and  what  is  the  answer  to  this. 

And  of  course  now  I  was  interested  in  the  Matthew 
library.   I  helped  build  that  up.  That's  the  geology 
branch  library  and  I  put  a  lot  of  my  own  books  in 
there.   I'd  go  around  and  try  to  find  one  of  my  own 
books  and  I  couldn't  find  it,  and  I'd  find  out  it's 
been  missing  for  a  long  time.  Somebody  stole  it,  you 
know.  That's  kind  of  discouraging  too.  I  found  out 
that  they  lost  seventy  books  out  of  that  little  library 
last  year,  several  the  year  before,  and  the  year  before 
that.  Now  they've  got  a  little  better  system.  They've 
got  a  desk  so  that  you  have  to  walk  between  a  narrow 
space  in  going  out  and  in.  But  even  so,  there  will  be 
some  missing  numbers,  and  that's  pretty  bad. 

The  library,  in  transition 

Stewart:   I  think  the  library  is  in  a  big  transitional  stage 

right  now,  and  it's  in  a  very  bad  stage  because  it  is 
transitional.  I  don't  think  that  there  will  be  any 
more  scholars  of  my  type,  probably,  because  you  can't 
do  it  in  the  library  now.  That  moving  the  books  out 
to  Richmond  has  made  them  so  they  are  no  longer 
available.  And  this  terrific  proliferation  of  knowledge 
as  expressed  in  books  has  temporarily  gotten  out  of 
hand.  You've  got  to  go  through  and  get  some  other  way 


Stewart:  of  handling  things.  And  I  think  It's  going  to  come 
through  the  miniaturization  of  all  that  stuff. 

Camp:     Oh  yes,  It's  coming,  the  miniaturization,  the  micro- 
cards  and  the  micro-film.  Of  course  they're  a  little 
awkward  to  handle,  but  still.  One  difficulty  right 
now  Is  that  you  have  to  go  up  to  the  newspaper  room 
to  read  the  micro-cards.  Micro-cards  are  nice  little 
things.  You  can  handle  a  whole  volume  on  one  card. 
But  It's  difficult  to  get  the  machine  to  read  them, 
and  Lord  knows  you  can't  read  them  without  a  machine. 
The  damn  things  are  so  small  you  can  hardly  see  them. 

Your  article,   Mr.  Stewart,  about  the  decline  of 
books,  must  have  been  written  about  then,  when  you 
got  into  your  library  chairmanship. 

Just  a  little  after  that,  about  the  same  time,  yes. 
What  was  that  article? 

I  wrote  an  article  called  "The  Twilight  of  the  Printed 

Oh,  yes.  I  remember.  That  may  be  like  the  twilight 
of  the  horse  and  carriage,  but  actually  there  will 
be  some  printed  books  I  suppose,  even  though  it  might 
be  troublesome  handling  them. 

Charles  Jones  is  very  interesting  on  this  subject. 
You  know  Chuck  Jones?  He  works  back  there  in  the 
early  middle  ages,  and  he  says  there's  going  to  be 
a  period  of  great  restriction.  Things  are  going  to 
be  destroyed  sometime  as  they  were  in  the  fifth 
century,  when  the  Alexandrian  library  went  all  to 
pieces,  because  the  papyrus  only  lasts  a  hundred 
years;  after  a  while  it  just  wasn't  there.  They  had 
a  library  there  of  I  think  he  says  five  hundred 
thousand  volumes.  A  couple  of  hundred  years  later 
the  largest  library  in  the  world  was  maybe  thirty 
thousand . 

Camp:     Do  any  insects  attack  papyrus? 

Stewart:   I  don't  know  about  that  but  it  doesn't  last  very  long 
under  ordinary  conditions. 


Stewart : 



Stewart : 


Is  it  kind  of  a  mold  that  attacks  it,  or  what? 


Stewart:  I  don't  know  what  the  organism  Is. 
Camp:     Does  It  go  to  pieces  like  old  paper? 

Stewart:  Yes,  It  does.   It  Just  goes  to  pieces.  It  will  only 
last  around  a  hundred  years  under  ordinary  conditions. 
Of  course  In  Egypt  It  lasts  longer  than  that  because 
It's  drier  country. 

Gamp:     Or  wherever  it's  in  a  dry  cave  It  will  last 
indefinitely,  won't  it? 

Stewart :  Yes . 

Camp:     Well,  I  suppose  that  this  paper  we've  got,  most  of 
It  will  disappear  in  a  short  time.  It  doesn't  cost 
too  much  to  put  things  onto  micro-cards  or  micro-film. 
The  fact  is,  you  can  Xerox  the  stuff  for  four  cents 
a  page  or  much  less  if  you're  doing  it  wholesale. 

Riess:    You're  suggesting  that  people  won't  do  the  kind  of 

research  that  you've  done  Just  because  it's  awkward? 

Stewart:   I  don't  see  how  they  can.  Browsing  through  a  library 
and  looking  at  the  books,  you  can  cover  so  much  that 
way.  I  think  that  it's  going  to  be  much  more  a  Joint 
operation.   It  is  already,  of  course.  I'm  already  an 
anachronism,  you  see,  they  don't  do  that  sort  of  thing 
any  more.  They  always  figure  out  they're  going  to 
get  a  certain  amount  of  money  to  do  this  Job.  I  never 
figured  in  terms  of  money  at  all.  I  Just  went  out 
and  did  it.  Even  that  place-name  dictionary  I  did 

Camp:     That's  more  or  less  true  with  me,  I  never  figured 
much  on  money.  Of  course  I  did  make  arrangements 
with  Fred,  Fred  Rosenstock.  He'd  always  say,  "Well, 
I'll  give  you  a  certain  amount  if  you'll  edit  this 
manuscript,  or  something."  Never  gave  me  very  much 
but  it  was  enough  to  make  it  interesting  you  know, 
not  wasting  your  time. 

Riess:    Getting  back  to  the  idea  of  browsing  through  a 

library  and  letting  the  subjects  sort  of  happen  to 
you  as  you  walk  into  them. . . 

Stewart:  You  can't  do  it  when  the  books  are  out  in  Richmond. 
It's  as  simple  as  that.  I  often  think  of  the  Civil 


Stewart:   War  for  instance.   They  moved  the  official  records 
out  to  Richmond.  Well,  gee,  they're  gone.  They 
don't  even  have  the  index  volumes  in  the  main  library. 
With  those  index  volumes  on  the  Civil  War  you  could 
do  a  lot  if  you  were  working  on  a  Civil  War  subject. 
But  now  it's  Just  gone. 

The  Bancroft  Library 

Camp:     Well,  I  think  the  Bancroft  Library  has  been  a  godsend 
for  me.   Especially  this  last  Job  that  I'm  doing. 

Stewart:  It  has  been  for  me  too.  The  stuff  is  always  there. 

Camp:     Yes,  it's  always  there  and  it's  handy  so  that  you 

can  get  at  it.  If  I  have  to  look  up  the  title  page 
of  a  book,  why  it  doesn't  take  but  a  few  minutes  to 
get  the  thing  out  and  look  'it  up  and  check  it  up  if  I 
get  the  imprint  out.  I've  had  to  do  a  lot  of  that 
lately  with  this  new  edition  of  the  Plains  and  Rookies, 
you  know.  Oh,  the  Bancroft's  been  a  godsend,  Just 
wonderful.  In  fact,  you  know  Streeter  was  going  to 
give  his  whole  collection  to  the  Bancroft  at  one  time. 
And  he  told  me  that  he  thought  the  Bancroft  was  one 
of  the  great  collections  in  the  country,  of  course, 
and  he  thought  of  .it  as  a  wonderful  place  to  work 
and  he  had  been  very  favorably  Impressed  with  it 
because  he'd  been  working  here  a  little  bit,  he  knew 
the  Bancroft  pretty  well.  You  know,  he's  a  great 
collector,  and  it  was  a  terrible  thing  that  his 
collection  wasn't,  that  he  wasn't,  handled  correctly. 

Riess:    The  Bancroft  has  always  been  run  by  scholars  rather 
than  librarians,  or  is  that  not  a  distinction? 

Camp:     Well  partly  so,  I  think  they  ought  to  be  a  combination 
of  both. 

Stewart:   It  was  the  librarians  and  not  the  scholars  that  lost 
that  Streeter  collection  though,  as  I  understand. 

Camp:     I  think  it  was  the  president  himself  that  lost  the 
Streeter  collection,  as  far  as  I  can  figure  it  out. 

Camp:     I  was  there  in  Streeter's  house  at  the  time  that  he 
decided  against  it.   He  told  us.  And  I  was  there  at 
the  time  he  decided  to  give  it  to  the  Bancroft.  He 
had  George  Harding  and  me  down  to  lunch  that  day.   I 
came  back  from  Africa  or  someplace  and  had  this 
telephone  call  and  we  came  down  to  lunch.  He  said, 
"I'm  going  to  give  my  collection  to  the  Bancroft 
Library . M  And  we  thought  that  was  great ,  and  con- 
gratulated  him  and  everything,  and  didn't  hear 
anything  more  about  it.   (Because  I  didn't  think  it 
was  my  business  and  I  thought  that  would  all  be  taken 
care  of.   I  didn't  think  there  would  be  any  more 
trouble  about  it.) 

And  then  I  was  back  at  Streeter's  house,  I  was 
staying  there  for  two  or  three  days,  I  guess  maybe 
more  than  that.  And  one  time  we  were  sitting  at  the 
table  and  he  said,  "You  know,  I  didn't  get  an  answer 
to  my  letter  to  President  Sproul."  I  said,  "Well, 
it's  awful  strange,  I  think  something  must  have 
slipped  up.  I  don't  think  that  President  Sproul 
would  have  failed  to  answer  your  letter.  Something 

I  tried  to  find  out  afterwards  what  went  on  and 
I  never  really  found  out.  Except  that  I  think  maybe 
Streeter's  proposition  was  turned  down,  and  I  don't 
know  just  what  happened.  I  don't  really  want  to  know. 
But  they  made  a  big  error,  I  think,  in  not  taking 
that  collection.   It  was  one  of  the  great  collections. 
I  guess  next  to  the  one  at  Yale,  it  was  the  greatest 
one  ever  formed  of  western  Americana.  Not  only 
western  Americana,  my  gosh,  it  included  the  whole 
eastern  seaboard  way  back  to  the  time  of  Columbus. 

Riess:    Where  did  it  go,  what  happened  to  it? 

Camp:     It  was  dispersed  at  public  auction.  Must  have  spent 
about  a  year  going  through  auctions  and  brought  about 
three  million  dollars  at  auction.  Those  books.  So 
the  next  time  I  saw  Tom  he  said,  "Well,  I'm  going  to 
sell  my  books  at  auction. "  He  has  a  big  family  and 
lots  of  grandchildren  and  so  on,  his  widow  and 




Pleasures  and  pains  of  writing 

Well,  we're  going  to  have  to  get  moving  pretty  soon, 
I'm  afraid.  Are  you  through? 

No,  I  haven't  let  you  ask  enough  questions. 
Stewart:   I  don't  know  that  I,  have  so  many  questions. 

Camp:     Well,  I.  want  to  know  what  George's  secret  is,  but  I 
don't  think  I'll  ever  find  out. 

Riess:    Please  ask  him. 

Camp:     Maybe  he  won't  tell  us,  maybe  he  can't  tell  us.  I 
don't  think  he  can  tell  us. 

Stewart:   I  have  no  secrets  at  all,  Just  hard  work,  a  little 
native  ability,   [laughter] 

Camp:  Well,  that's  probably  true. 

Riess:  You've  finished  your  book,  haven't  you? 

Stewart:  In  a  sense,  yes. 

Camp:  Your  novel?  I"  The  Shakespeare  Crisis] 

Stewart:  Yes. 

Camp:  Come  out  the  way  you  said  it  was  going  to  come  out? 

Stewart:  Well,  yes,  it  did.  I've  got  to  go  back  and  change  a 
few  things  in  it,  though. 

Camp:     It's  too  bad  to  have  him  assassinate  himself  that 
way.  Hope  I'm  not  spilling  the  beans. 

Stewart:   I  just  finished  the  first  draft,  and  I've  been 
letting  it  wait  around  a  while. 

Riess:    You're  not  satisfied  with  what  you  have? 
Stewart:  You're  never  satisfied  completely,  I  suppose. 
Camp:     That's  my  opinion. 


Stewart:  Maybe  on  a  particular  sentence  or  a  particular 

passage  you  may  be  satisfied  especially.  But  you're 
not  really  satisfied  with  the  whole  thing. 

Camp:     I  thought  that  probably  was  the  case.  But  of  course 
that's  the  natural  thing.   You  Just  can't  keep 
working  over  It  forever. 

Rless:    Did  you  go  about  your  writings  in  paleontology 
differently  from  your  writings  in  history? 

Camp:     Oh,  yes.   They  were  much  more  stilted.   I  mean,  much 
more  cut  and  dried.  You  get  a  training  under  these 
scientific  men,  these  scientific  professors.  They 
give  you  a  pretty  cold-blooded  training  in  writing. 
Everything  has  to  be  Just  so.  You've  got  a  telegraphic 
style  for  certain  parts  of  the  thing.  The  papers  have 
got  to  be  all  organized  in  a  certain  way,  and  all  that, 
otherwise  they  don't  pass  them.  So  there  was  a  tendency 
to  squeeze  the  Juice  out  of  everything  at  the  beginning. 

All  the  papers  that  I  wrote  I  felt  afterwards 
they'd  sort  of  had  the  life  squeezed  out  of  them. 
The  whole  subject  became  then  a  dried-up  subject.  And 
I  got  a  little  bit  fed  up  with  that  sort  of  thing.  So 
that's  one  reason  that  I  branched  out. 

Grinnell  used  to  say,  "There  are  a  lot  of  friends 
of  mine  that  are  in  science  that  think  more  highly 
of  some  foolish  little  popular  article  that  they've 
written,  than  they  do  of  all  their  scientific  work." 
He  seemed  to  think  that  was  a  big  mistake,  but  I  know 
how  they  felt.   They  felt  that  they  had  really 
blossomed  out  sometimes  if  they  put  something  into  a 
magazine  or  some  little  poem  or  something  that  they 
had  written.  They  felt  more  human  about  that  than 
they  did  about  their  dry-as-dust  scientific  writings. 

You  take  a  lizard  and  you  count  the  scales  on 
his  stomach  and  the  length  of  the  tail  and  the  length 
of  the  head  and  write  a  description.  And  you  take  the 
bones  of  the  skull  and  compare  them  with  the  bones  of 
the  skull  of  some  other  critter  and  you  make  a 
diagram  of  whether  they're  related  and  Just  what  way 
they're  related  and  so  on. 

Well,  I  did  that  in  my  thesis  and  apparently  it 
was  of  some  use  to  some  people  because  that  thesis 


Camp:     was  published  fifty  years  ago  and  they  reprinted  it 
the  other  day  baok  at  Notre  Dame.  They  reprinted 
it  and  charged  .$17  a  copy  for  it  and  they  told  me 
they'd  sold  more  of  that  than  any  of  the  other 
reprints  that  they  had  now.  I  thought  that  was  very 
strange.  I  told  them  I  was  somewhat  embarrassed  to 
see  my  thesis  coming  out  because  there  are  so  many 
things  that  would  be  changed  now.  After  fifty  years 
there  are  a  lot  of  changes. 

But  anyway,  I  felt  kind  of  elated  about  the 
whole  thing,  the  fact  that  it  could  still  be  of 
enough  use  that  people  could  still  use  it.  I  asked 
one  of  the  boys  down  at  the  museum,  "What  do  you  think 
of  this  deal  of  reprinting  that  thing?"  "Oh,"  he 
says,  "That's  just  fine.  There  are  a  lot  of  people 
that  want  that  thesis  and  they  haven't  been  able  to 
get  it."  So,  it's  all  right. 

Riess:    Was  there  room  for  real  speculation  in  that  type  of 

Camp:     Oh,  yes,  there  is  room  for  speculation,  I  should  say 
so.  Yes,  that's  the  core  of  it,  that's  the  main 
thing  in  that  scientific  work.   It's  not  exactly  the 
speculation  but  the  conclusions  that  you  come  to,  the 
.  new  things  that  you  find  out.   It's  the  new  discoveries 
that  are  exciting.  Of  course  scientific  work  in 
itself  is  probably  Just  as  exciting  as  anything  you 
could  possibly  do. 

But  the  results,  as  they're  published,  are  not 
necessarily  very  exciting  to  anybody,  unless  you're 
very  deeply  immersed  in  the  subject  yourself.   If 
you  know  enough  about  the  subject  so  that  you  can  get 
in  there  and  figure — the  theory  of  relativity  at  the 
beginning  must  have  been  very  exciting  to  people  that 
knew  what  they  were  doing.  But  it  certainly  wasn't 
to  people  who  didn't  know  anything  about  the  subject, 
because  it  was  too  abstruse,  too  far  away  from  every 
thing  that  they  experienced.  But  it's  much  that  way 
with  any  kind  of  original  work. 

In  science,  you've  got  to  have  a  little  back 
ground  in  the  subject  in  order  to  appreciate  it  or 
to  make  it  interesting  or  exciting. 





Riess:          Now,   I  know  you  have  to  be  leaving. 
Stewart:     Yes,   I  think  we'd  better  haul  off  now. 
Riess:          All  right.      Thank  you  both. 

Transcribers:     Jane  West  and  Lavinia  Limon 
Final  Typist:     Keiko  Sugimoto 




On  Awarding  Honors 

At  one  point  I  spoke  about  Bob  Erode  sticking  his  head  in 
at  the  door  and  then  asking  me  to  run  for  the  Board  of  the 
Faculty  Club  ['p.  1?^].  That's  a  good  example  of  what  might  be 
called  luck.   It  led  to  a  good  deal  in  my  life,  and  even,  I  may 
say,  had  some  influence  upon  the  history  of  the  University. 

I  became  president  of  the  Faculty  Club,  and  I  have  already 
said  something  about  that.   On  December  8,  1966,  I  performed  my 
last  duty  as  president,  when  I  presided  at  the  big  annual 
Christmas  dinner,  which  has  been  the  chief  celebration  of  the 
Faculty  Club  since  its  foundation  in  1902.   Governor  Brown,  at 
my  invitation,  came  down  from  Sacramento  to  the  dinner,  and  gave 
a  little  fillip  to  it.  The  reorganized  Monks'  Chorus  sang 
magnificently,  and  Cyril  Birch  and  his  players  presented  some 
excellent  skits.  Since  I  had  had  a  good  deal  to  do  with  all  of 
this,  I  could  feel  very  happy  that  I  was  going  out  in  a  slight 
blaze  of  glory.  At  this  point,  rather  more  than  at  my  actual 
retirement,  I  felt  that  I  had  finished  my  active  work. 

Then,  as  it  happened,  after  about  a  year  (I  went  fishing 
in  Chile  and  did  other  things  in  the  meantime)  I  was  tapped  to 
be  chairman  of  the  Centennial  Honors  Committee--my  club  service 
being,  I  imagine,  a  chief  recommendation.  Professor  Garff 
Wilson,  Chairman  of  Public  Ceremonies  and  much  involved  in  the 
Centennial  of  the  University,  was  the  one,  I  think,  who  picked 
me,  really,   Officially,  my  appointment  came  from  the  Chancellor. 

The  point  was  that  the  University  (this  campus,  in 
particular)  wanted  to  establish  some  method  or  methods  by  which 
worthy  people  could  be  honored  during  the  Centennial  Year.  About 
all  that  we  had  already  was  the  honorary  degree.  Such  degrees 
cannot  be  given  in  large  numbers,  and  they  are  controlled  by 
the  Regents  on  a  statewide  basis.  My  Job,  with  my  committee, 
was  to  work  out  ways  in  which  honors  could  be  invented  and 

By  the  time  that  I  went  into  the  Job  the  idea  of  the  Citation 
had  already  been  developed.  Garff  says  that  I  am  wrong,  that 
I  went  in  from  the  beginning.  Usually,  I  am  considered  to  be 
the  inventor  of  the  Citation.  That  is  the  way  legends  develop. 
Probably  there  is  no  use  my  fighting  against  it.  When  you  have 


something  like  the  Citation,  you  have  to  have  some  name  to  tie 
it  up  with.   I  am  the  name. 

At  least,  I  had  a  good  deal  to  do  with  the  way  in  which 
it  was  given,  and  working  out  how  and  for  whom. 

The  Citation,  as  far  as  I  know,  was  a  new  idea.   It  has 
proved,  I  think,  to  be  a  good  one. 

During  the  Centennial  Year  we  handed  out  citations  liberally — 
about  a  hundred  of  them  altogether.  They  were  given  to  a  few 
active  faculty  and  people  in  the  University  Itself,  and  to  a 
good  many  emeriti.  They  were  also  given  to  alumni  who  had  worked 
hard  for  the  University,  particularly  in  connection  with  the 
celebrations  of  that  year. 

Gradually  we  worked  out  the  standards  which  still  are  guide 
lines.  Not  only  must  the  person  receiving  the  Citation  have 
eminence  in  some  way  or  other,  but  also  he  must  have  an  intimate 
connection  with  the  campus.  Coming  to  the  campus  to  deliver  a 
lecture  is  considered  to  give  this  intimate  connection.  In 
addition,  the  Citation  must  be  awarded  on  a  formal  occasion.  You 
cannot  Just  mail  it  to  somebody.  Furthermore,  the  recipient  has 
to  be  there  to  receive  It.  These  regulations  insure  that  the 
recipient  should  at  least  have  his  moment  of  glory. 

There  was  to  be  created,  as  part  of  the  Centennial  Celebration, 
by  the  Chancellor,  an  honorific  body  to  be  known  as  the  Berkeley 
Fellows.  Their  number  was  to  be  one  hundred,  and  it  was  to  be 
a  permanent  organization.  It  was  to  have  no  particular  duties, 
and  we  were  very  careful  to  establish  that  it  was  not  going  to 
be  a  money-raising  organization.   Its  membership  was  to  be  from 
outstanding  people,  with  some  connection  with  the  University, 
although  the  intimacy  of  relationship  was  not  emphasized,  as  it 
was  with  the  awarding  of  citations.  The  Chancellor  would  give 
a  dinner  once  a  year,  and  perhaps  use  this  opportunity  to  make 
a  kind  of  State-of-the-Unlversity  speech  and  get  reactions  from 
a  large  group  of  interested  people. 

The  Chancellor  sent  out  a  letter  to  a  considerable  number 
of  prominent  people  who  were  connected  with  the  University.  I 
think  he  sent  to  all  the  honorary  degree  holders  from  this 
campus,  who  over  the  course  of  the  years  make  up  a  fairly  large 
body  of  people.  These  were  expected  to  send  in  nominations  to 
the  Fellows,  and  they  did.  We  got  about  three  hundred  nominations, 
each  including  a  brief  statement  as  to  why  the  person  was  being 
nominated.  Then  we  had  a  committee,  of  which  I  was  chairman, 
who  put  in  a  lot  of  work  winnowing  things  out. 


A  comparatively  small  number  of  the  three  hundred  were 
easily  eliminated,  since  they  seemed  to  have  been  nominated  out 
of  personal  friendship  or  for  some  other  not  very  good  reason. 
The  great  majority,  however,  were  real  candidates.  We  had  to 
spend  a  lot  of  work  on  the  subject.   It  was  particularly  hard, 
because  this  was  an  unusual  and  one  might  say  unprecedented 
situation,  and  there  were  no  guidelines  laid.  Gradually  we 
came  to  see  that  there  were  two  partially  conflicting  principles. 
Should  we  consider  these  people  as  representatives  of  groups? 
Or  should  we  consider  them  entirely  oh  their  own  preeminence? 
The  only  veto  that  we  laid  down  was  that  no  active  member  of 
the  University  (whether  student,  faculty,  administrator  or 
regent)  should  be  included.  Gradually  we  came  to  see  that 
there  were  two  big  recruiting  areas.  There  were  the  emeritus 
faculty,  and  we  finally  took  about  fifteen  or  twenty  of  them. 
Second,  there  were  the  prominent  alumni,  especially  those  who 
took  an  active  interest  in  University  affairs.  There  was,  to 
my  mind  unfortunately,  a  strong  and  natural  tendency  to  include 
people  who  had  given  generously  to  the  University.  There  was 
also  a  natural,  but  again  to  my  mind  unfortunate,  tendency  to 
make  this  an  occasion  to  t>lle  honor  upon  honor.  That  is,  if  a 
man  had  an  honorary  degree  already,  that  seemed  to  make  him  a 
good  candidate  for  the  Fellows.  That  meant  that  you  didn't 
really  widen  the  base.  Besides,  if  somebody  had  an  honorary 
degree,  appointment  to  the  Fellows  really  meant  less  to  him. 

There  was  a  certain  group  that  we  called  the  super-stars, 
upon  whom  everybody  naturally  agreed.   That  is,  people  like 
Warren  and  Sproul. 

We  never  really  did  solve  the  question  of  representation 
versus  eminence.   I  thought,  for  instance,  that  the  University 
should,  get  someone  from  the  labor  movement,  but  the  man  that  I 
nominated  did  not  get  by.   I  had  the  feeling  that  we  were  going 
to  end  up  with  a  lot  of  backward-looking  alumni,  and  I  even 
talked  to  Heyns  directly  about  that  problem. 

In  the  end,  I  think  we  didn't  do  too  badly.  The  committee 
winnowed  things  down  and  sent  in  about  125  names.  The  Chancellor 
selected  the  one  hundred  and  we  were  off. 

The  functioning  of  the  Fellows  has  been  Just  about  what 
we  expected,  and  the  organization  now  shows  good  prospects  of 
being  permanent.  The  new  Chancellor  has  taken  it  over. 

As  to  my  own  part  in  it,  I  remained  as  chairman  of  the 
advisory  committee  appointed,  by  the  Chancellor,  its  duty  being 
chiefly  to  nominate  people  for  the  vacancies.  Vacancies, 
naturally,  occur  only  with  a  death.   In  that  case,  the  new 





appointee  succeeds  to  the  number  of  the  old  one. 

We  had,  according  to  my  way  of  thinking,  a  slight  foul-up 
at  the  first  meeting,  that  is,  the  dinner  at  the  Chancellor's 
house.   I  had  it  all  arranged  that  we  would  draw  for  numbers, 
so  that  we  would  be  an  association  of  equals.   That  is,  number  1 
would  not  have  any  precedence  over  number  45.  At  the  last 
moment,  however,  Donald.  McLaughlin,  who  was  a  member  of  the 
committee,  suddenly  had  a  brainstorm.  He  rose,  and  moved  (blast 
him! )  that  Bob  Sproul  and  Mrs.  Sproul  should  be  respectively 
given  the  numbers  1  and  2.   This  threw  the  whole  thing  off.   Of 
course,  when  a  motion  like  that  is  made  (Mrs.  Sproul  was  present) 
you  can't  oppose  it. 

Obviously,  you  should  not  make  a  motion  which  does  not 
really  allow  for  any  choice. 

At  this  time,  not  only  did  I  have  the  appointment  as 
chairman  of  the  committees  on  the  Citation  and  the  Fellows,  but 
also  I  received  the  appointments  to  be  on  the  committee  for  the 
Clark  Kerr  medal  and  for  honorary  degrees. 

All  this  is  an  illustration  of  the  old  adage  that  success 
breeds  success,  but  it  is  also  an  exemplification  of  Stewart's 
Law  of  Honors  and  Prizes.   That  is,  roughly  speaking,  that  the 
more  honors  a  person  has  the  more  honors  you  give  him.  A  child, 
let  us  say,  gets  some  kind  of  prize  in  nursery  school.   In 
kindergarten  he  is  thus  a  little  outstanding,  and  so  is  a  "safe" 
person  to  receive  the  Kindergarten  Prize.  So  it  goes,  onward 
and  upward.  At  every  stage  you  give  him  the  prize,  because  he 
is  "safe."  After  a  while,  he  gets  a  Nobel  Prize,  and  a  whole 
roster  of  honorary  degrees.  During  the  same  years,  the  fellow 
who  missed  out  in  nursery  school  keeps  missing  out  on  all  the 
other  things  as  they  come  along. 

I  served  on  the  Committee  on  Honorary  Degrees  only  for  a 
short  time,  and  got  little  feeling  for  it.   I  cannot  say  that 
I  made  any  contribution  to  it.  I  got  off  it  because  I  exercised 
my  emeritus  prerogative,  and  went  to  New  Zealand. 

As  for  the  Kerr  Medal,  I  probably  contributed  something. 
I  wrote  out  a  long  communication  which  we  published  in  the 
Bulletin  of  the  American  Association  of  University  Professors, 
establishing  some  guidelines  for  the  awarding  of  the  Medal.   I 
never  got  very  deeply  involved  in  the  matter,  however,  When  I 
was  rotated  off  the  committee  after  a  few  years,  it  made  little 
difference  to  me. 




I  think  thnt  all  this  matter  of  honors  in  the  University 
deserves  a.  little  comment.   On  the  whole,  I  approve  of  the 
matter,  though  there  are  obvious  corruptions  that  creep  in. 
When  I  was  chairnan,  I  was  likely  to  tell  my  committee,  "Remember, 
when  you  give  someone  an  honor,  there's  also  someone  else  to 
whom  you  do  not  give  an  honor.  "  You  have  to  be  particularly 
careful  not  to  fall  into  the  trap  of  Stewart's  Law. 

We  worked  pretty  hard  at  that  point  when  making  up  the 
list  for  the  Fellows.  We  nominated  a  considerable  number  of 
people  who  had  not  had  honorary  degrees,  at  the  same  time 
passing  over  some  people  who  had  them.  But  there  was  one  agency 
of  the  University  that  raised  objections.  This  was  the  Public 
Relations  Bureau.  They  even  persuaded  the  Chancellor  not  to 
publish  the  list  of  the  Fellows,  and  that  organization  has  never 
really  been  announced  to  the  public  or  had  any  publicity.   On 
the  other  hand,  of  course,  some  of  the  people  who  had  been 
appointed  Fellows  came  around,  to  me  and  said,  "Here,  the 
Chancellor  appoints  me  to  this  body  with  the  note  that  it  is  a 
high  honor,  and  then  they  never  even  put  it  in  the  papers. 

I've  always  trembled  a  little  about  my  association  with  the 
honors  during  these  last  few  years.   I  have  been  afraid  I  would 
end  up  the  most  unpopular  man  on  the  campus  in  the  minds  of  the 
great  majority,  those  who  had  not  received  honors,  even  though 
the  few  who  had  received  honors  might  think  that  I  was  all 
right.  There  is  no  evidence  that  it  has  worked  out  in  this 
way.   Obviously,  there  must  be  individuals  who  think  that  they 
have  been  passed  over  unjustly.  I  questioned  my  committee 
several  times  as  to  whether  they  were,  individually,  conscious 
of  any  adverse  criticism  of  what  we  were  doing.  They  have  always 
replied  that  they  have  not  sensed  any  such  objection,  and  that 
there  was  much  approval.   I  hope  so. 

Some  universities,  like  Stanford,  avoid  this  problem  by 
giving  no  honorary  degrees  at  all.  This  seems  to  me  too  bad. 
To  refrain  from  giving  honors  to  someone  who  deserves  them  Just 
for  the  fear  that  you  are  missing  somebody  who  may  deserve  them 
equally,  seems  to  me  to  represent  a  certain  pusillanimity. 
Something  of  the  vigor  of  a  civilization  can  be  reflected  in 
its  willingness  to  make  decisions,  even  though  they  may  be 
difficult  ones. 

George  R.  Stewart 

•  • 



On  Dishonesty,  Seeming  and  Real 

If  there  is  one  thing  more  than  another  which  disturbs 
me  about  the  present-day  university,  it  is  not  the  occasional 
triumph  of  brashness  over  experience  or  the  breaking  of  windows, 
but  it  is  the  apparent  breakdown  of  common  honesty  in  the 
student's  relation  to  his  work.   I  find,  this  evidenced 
particularly  by  the  open  advertisements  of  term-papers  and  even 
of  graduate  theses  for  sale.  Violence  and  arson  may  be  said  to 
work  upon  a  university  system  from  the  outside,  but  the  break 
down  of  honesty  eats  at  the  very  core.  Moreover,  I  am  afraid, 
as  people  who  have  cheated  as  undergraduates  move  on,  they 
eventually  become  professors  and  carry  with  them  this  attitude. 

I  want  to  talk  here  a  little  about  some  experiences  in  my 
teaching  career,  and  a  little  more  about  some  of  my  experience 
with  dishonesty  in  various  forms  over  a  long  career  as  a  writer. 

When  I  was  at  Princeton,  we  had  an  honor  system  which  was, 
I  believe,  strictly  observed.   One  man  in  my  class  was,  I 
believe,  dismissed  for  dishonesty,  and  he  was,  as  it  happens, 
from  a  foreign  country.   Such  an  honor  system  could  be  observed, 
and  largely  policed  by  the  students  themselves,  in  a  place  like 
Princeton  of  that  period,  which  was  comparatively  small,  and 
preserved  the  tradition  of  the  gentleman.   (Don't  ask  me  to 
define  that  world  gentleman. ) 

When  I  came  to  Berkeley,  we  had  an  honor  system  too.   It 
did  not  work  very  well,  and  it  was  abolished  after  a  few  years, 
largely,  as  I  remember,  at  the  insistence  of  some  of  the 
scientific  departments. 

I  had  one  interesting  experience  with  it.   In  English  Ib, 
a  large  course  with  many  sections,  I  was  teaching  two  sections. 
One  of  them  had  the  examination  in  a  room  with  only  people  of 
that  section  there.  The  other  one  had  an  examination  in  a  room 
with  a  section  taught  by  some  other  instructor.  As  it  happened, 
through  a  misunderstanding,  a  brief  identification  question 
had  been  put  upon  the  examination  from  a  poem  which  had  not 
been  in  the  regular  assignments  and  which  I  had  not  assigned, 
though  many  instructors  had.  The  professor  in  charge  of  the 
course  told  me  just  to  Ignore  that  question  as  far  as  my  students 
were  concerned. 

:  •••• 


Among  the  students  who  took  the  examination  in  a  room  by 
themselves,  no  one  at  nil  answered  that  question.   In  the  other 
section,  about  rx  third  of  my  students  answered  it,  obviously 
having  copied  the  answer  from  the  students  of  the  other  section 
with  whom  they  were  mingled.  With  one  exception,  all  of  my 
students  who  answered  this  question  were  on  the  edge  of  falling 
the  course,  or  getting  a  D,  at  least.  The  one  exception  was 
the  best  stmdent  in  the  section,  and  I  would  suppose  that  she 
had  done  a  little  extra  reading. 

I  gave  my  results  to  the  professor  in  charge  of  the  course, 
but  he  really  suppressed  the  whole  matter,  as  not  being  anything 
that  he  wanted  to  stir  up. 

Prom  my  experience  at  writing  I  can  give  you  an  example 
of  my  theory  that  professors  who  have  cheated  as  undergraduates 
will  continue  to  carry  the  thing  on  after  they  are  professors. 
About  three  years  ago  the  California  Historical  Society 
Quarterly  published  an  article  on  Bret  Harte.   Since  I  still 
keep  up  on  Bret  Harte,  I  started  to  read  the  article,  and  was 
astonished  to  find  that  it  was  cribbed,  sentence  after  sentence, 
from  my  biography  of  Harte.   It  was  by  a  professor  in  one  of 
the  local  colleges. 

I  reported  the  matter  to  the  editor  of  the  Quarterly,  saying 
that  it  made  no  great  difference  to  me  but  that  I  thought  he 
should  be  very  much  perturbed.  He  was.  Obviously,  in  such  a 
case,  there  should  be  a  quick  and  full  apology  published  in  the 
Journal,  with  an  explanation.  But  the  society  took  what  was, 
to  me,  a  strange  position.  At  one  point  I  was  astounded  to 
find  them  suggesting  that  they  didn't  want  to  take  any  action  in 
the  matter  because  then  the  professor  might  sue  them.   I  replied 
that  I  could  sue  them  on  my  side,  definitely.  Eventually  they 
published  a  partial,  I  should  say,  explanation  of  the  matter, 
with  a  letter  from  the  professor,  who  pusillanimous ly  blamed 
matters  on  his  stenographer,  who  had  just  copied  things  out,  he 
said.   Obviously  this  is  no  explanation. 

I  have  suffered  other  plagiarisms  too.  Some  Dutchman 
published  what  was  apparently  nothing  much  more  than  a  trans 
lation  of  Storm  into  Dutch.   He  would  probably  have  got  away 
with  that  except  for  some  bad  luck.  At  Just  the  time  of  the 
appearance  of  his  book,  an  authorized  translation  of  Storm 
came  out  in  Dutch,  and  of  course  the  similarity  was  noted.  The 
authorized  publishers,  naturally,  raised  the  case.   Parallel 
columns  were  published  in  some  Dutch  Journal,  and  there  was  a 


At  the  opening  of  the  war  a  somewhat  hysterical  book 
called  Bef ore  I  Die  was  published,  with  large  extracts  from 
Storm  included  in  it. 

Of  course,  there  have  probably  been  a  great  many  other 
instances  of  plagiarism  which  have  never  even  come  to  my 
attention.   Plagiarism,  however,  is  a  term  that  should  not  be 
used  too  freely.  Writers  naturally  borrow  terms  and  twists  of 
speech  from  one  another,  sometimes  without  even  realizing  it. 
Mark  Twain  tells  a  long  story  about  a  case  of  this  kind.   Such 
minor  borrowings  should  be  taken  as  compliments. 

I  have  never  got  into  trouble  that  way,  although  once  I 
put  myself  into  a  position  which  might  have  caused  trouble.  At 
that  time  I  was  seeing  a  great  deal  of  C.S.  Forrester,  and  we 
were  both  writing  novels.   Such  a  situation  is  likely  to  lead 
to  trouble.  He  was  working  on  the  Good  Shepherd,  and  I  was 
working  on  Fire.   If  you  examine  those  books,  you  will  see  that 
the  same  device  is  used  in  them,  of  having  a  man  quote  the  Bible 
for  the  terms  of  the  story.   It  would  seem  very  likely  that  at 
some  point  one  or  the  other  of  us  had  had  the  idea  and  had 
transmitted  it  to  the  other  one.  The  one  receiving  it  may  not 
have  been  conscious  of  getting  it  in  that  way.  In  my  own 
defense  I  would  say  that  the  Bible  figures  much  more  in  my 
writings  than  it  does  in  his,  so  that  the  likelihood  should  be 
that  I  originated  the  idea,  and  I  am  sure  that  I  did.  He,  of 
course,  may  also  have  originated  it  independently. 

I  did  not  discuss  the  matter  with  him  after  the  books  came 
out,  and  the  incident  never  made  any  difference  in  our  relation 
ship.   I  have  never  had  any  threats  of  legal  action  in  this 
connection.   I  have  spoken  already  of  the  slight  difficulty 
in  the  Phoenix  book.   In  another  instance  I  got  into  a  personal 
tangle  about  my  use  of  a  name.   I  was  absolutely  flabbergasted 
when  a  person  whom  I  knew  quite  well  took  a  very  serious 
offense  at  my  having  used  his  family  name  for  a  character.  His 
name  was,  incidentally,  not  one  x?hich  would  call  attention  to 
itself.  Moreover,  the  character  to  whom  I  had  applied  it  was 
a  very  sympathetic  one.  There  was  nothing  about  the  character 
that  in  any  way,  as  far  as  I  could  ever  see,  suggested  the  man 

There  wasn't  much  that  I  could  do,  except  to  say  that  no 
one  has  a  copyright  to  his  own  name,  and  that  no  ordinary  person 
would  make  any  connection  in  this  case. 

I  think  that  he  got  over  it,  and  we  have  remained  on  good 
terms.  I  must  say,  however,  that  I've  always  kept  my  guard  up 
about  him  since  that  time. 




M!  -  n  rf  v 


Actually,  you  always  take  a  ohanoe  in  using  any  kind  of 
name,  because  somebody  may  turn  up  who  wants  to  make  a  fuss 
about  it. 

I  have  had  several  cases  of  piracy — a  Brazilian  edition 
of  some  book  (Storm  I  think)  was  one  example.   In  196!  I  was 
in  Uppsala.  A  friend  suggested  that  we  look  in  the  university 
library  and  see  how  many  copies  of  my  books  were  there.  Among 
them  was  the  Swedish  translation  of  Earth  Abides.   I  had  never 
heard  of  it,  or  seen  a  copy  of  it  to  this  day.  The  Swedes  have 
a  great  reputation  for  being  meticulous,  but  apparently  this 
publisher  did  not  bother  to  get  a  contract  with  the  author. 

When  U.S.  40  was  coming  out,  I  received  the  galley  proofs 
when  I  was  in  Boston.   I  took  a  look  at  them,  and  decided  that 
I  could  not  have  that  book  published  in  my  name.  The  editor 
had  made  changes  all  over  the  place,  and  some  of  them  quite 
unwarranted  and  incorrect.  The  publishers  (Houghton-Mifflin) 
looked  at  the  text,  and  decided  that  I  was  right.  They  had 
the  whole  book  reset.  Something  of  the  same  thing  (though  with 
a  different  ending)  happened  with  a  Juvenile  that  I  wrote  once. 
I  said  that  it  had  been  changed  so  much  that  it  was  no  longer 
my  book,  and  I  refused  to  have  it  published  under  my  name. 

I  got  into  a  rather  curious  jam  with  a  Norwegian  publisher 
about  a  translation  of  Man.   He  must  have  been  some  kind  of 
fundamentalist,  and  he  objected  to  some  of  the  statements  about 
religion  in  the  book.  He  wanted  to  expurgate  it,  and  I  would 
not  let  him.  As  far  as  I  know,  the  translation  never  appeared. 

Saxe  Commins  was  unduly  sensitive,  it  seems  to  me,  about 
the  use  of  the  word  Jew,  or  Jewish.   I  took  it  out,  in  manuscript, 
a  couple  of  times  out  of  deference  to  him  and  in  the  name  of 

I  should  also  like  to  get  into  the  record  a  case  in  which 
I  myself  was  accused  of  plagiarism,  or  at  least  of  bad  faith. 
It  is  also  of  some  interest  in  that  it  involved  the  Bancroft 
Library  and  a  man  who  became  something  of  a  legend  around  there. 
This  was  Willard  P.  Morse.  This  story  goes  back  to  the  time 
when  I  was  working  on  Bret  Harte. 

Morse  was  a  retired  mining  engineer,  who  had  laid  by  a 
nice  amount  of  money.   His  great  and  overwhelming  hobby  in  his 
retirement  was  that  of  collecting  items  by  and  about  various 
writers,  mostly  American,  in  whom  he  had  become  interested.  He 
was  not  much  of  a  reader,  I  think,  and  the  collection  itself  was 
what  interested  him.   One  of  his  first-line  collections  was 


Morse  would  show  up  at  the  Bancroft  Library,  once  in  a 
while.   He  lived  in  Santa  Monica,  but  he  would  come  up  for  a 
few  days  or  a  week,  and  spend  his  time  hunting  through  the 
files.  He  would  spend  any  amount  of  time  running  something 
down.   He  went  beyond  the  ordinary  collector,  by  making  the 
thing  more  readily  available.  He  put  all  his  clippings  on 
standard-size  paper  and  arranged  them  carefully,  so  it  was  a 
delight  to  work  with  them.   I  went  to  his  place  in  Santa  Monica 
several  times  and  worked  there,  and  he  was  very  generous  with 
all  his  materials. 

Morse  was  a  collector,  not  a  scholar,  and  there  is  a  lot 
of  difference.  As  I  have  said  Morse  would  go  to  any  amount  of 
trouble  to  run  down  an  item  but  the  item  had  to  be  identified 
for  him  first.  That  was  what  I  was  pretty  good  at.  Prom  some 
kind  of  evidence  (internal  or  external)  I  would  discover  an 
article  that  Harte  had  written,  and  either  run  it  down  myself 
or  give  the  reference  to  Morse  to  work  on. 

After  a  vrhile  I  had  collected,  with  his  help  too,  a  fairly 
good  bibliography  of  the  writings  of  Harte  in  magazines  and 
newspapers.   (On  second  thoughts,  I  take  out  that  word  "with 
his  help"  above.  His  help  always  came  afterwards,  not  in  the 
identification  of  the  material  itself. )   I  had  this  material 
typed  up,  with  the  idea  of  publishing  it  sometime.  At  this 
point  Morse  asked  me  for  a  copy  of  it,  and  I  gave  it  to  him, 
since  he  had  always  been  very  helpful  to  me,  and  I  was  glad  to 
repay  some  of  that  debt.   Morse  also  worked  at  the  Huntington 
Library,  and  he  showed  the  people  there  this  bibliography.  My 
name  was  not  on  it.  The  Huntington  Library  people  wanted  a 
copy  of  it,  and  Morse  gave  them  one.  They  put  it  in  their  files, 
apparently  as  his  work.   I  kept  on  working  on  Harte,  and 
increased  the  bibliography  substantially  after  I  had  given  him 
the  copy.   Eventually  I  published  it,  and  I  dedicated  it  to 
Morse.   I  did  not,  however,  make  any  acknowledgement  to  him, 
in  a  scholarly  way,  because  he  had  not  actually  identified  any 
of  the  material  for  me. 

Before  long  the  publisher  (The  University  Press)  had  a 
letter  from  somebody  who  had  worked  in  the  Huntington  Library. 
He  accused  me  of  having  pirated  Morse's  work,  without  acknowl 
edgement.   He  gave  as  his  evidence  the  fact  that  this 
bibliography  of  Morse's  was  in  the  Huntington  Library. 

I  suppose  that  a  lot  of  morals  can  be  drawn  from  such  a 
case.   Chiefly,  I  should  say,  it  demonstrates  that  things  are 
not  always  Just  what  they  seem. 


I  had  Sproul  meet  Morse  on  one  occasion,  and  Sproul  made 
a  trip  to  Santa  Monica  to  look  at  the  materials.  On  Morse's 
death,  in  the  mid-thirties,  the  family  decided  to  sell  the 
material,  and  it  has  been  split  up,  mostly,  I  think,  in 
libraries  in  Southern  California. 


Morse  once  told  me  an  interesting  story,  which  I  used  as 
a  passing  reference  in  Doctor's  Oral.  As  a  very  young  man  he 
had  worked  for  some  mining  company  on  the  Comstock  Lode  in 
Virginia  City.  He  was  apparently  a  bookkeeper  and  worked  with 
some  kind  of  a  ledger.  Everything  broke  up,  and  the  companies 
went  bankrupt,  and  Morse  took  his  ledger  and  laid  it  on  a  shelf 
there.  Thirty  or  forty  years  later  he  came  back  and  looked  in 
through  the  window  where  he  had  worked,  and  there  was  the  ledger 
still  lying  on  the  shelf  in  Just  the  position  he  had  left  it. 

On  the  whole,  having  written  so  much  over  the  course  of  so 
many  years,  I  think  that  I  must  have  handled  myself  quite 
circumspectly,  not  to  have  got  into  any  more  trouble  than  I  have, 

George  R.  Stewart 



Personal  Biography 

Born  to  George  Rlppey  Stewart  and  Ella  May  Wilson 

Stewart,  May  31,  1895,  Sewlokly,  Pennsylvania 
Married  to  Theodosia  Burton,  May  17,  192*4- 
Children:  Jill  Burton  -  1925 
John  Harris  -  1928 

Education  and  Degrees 

A.B.  Princeton,  191? 

M.A.  University  of  California,  Berkeley,  1920 

Ph.D.  Columbia,  1922 

Positions  Held 

1920  Assistant  in  English,  U.S. 

1921  Lecturer  in  English,  Columbia 
1922-23  Instructor  in  English,  Michigan 
1923-25  Instructor  in  English,  U.C. 
1925-35  Assistant  Professor  of  English,  U.C. 
1935-4-2  Associate  Professor  of  English,  U.C. 
19^2-62  Professor  of  English,  U.C. 

1962-    Emeritus  Professor  of  English,  U.C. 

1952-53  Pulbright  Professor  of  American  Literature  and 

Civilization,  Athens,  Greece 
1926  summer,  University  of  Michigan 
1939  summer,  Duke  University 
19^2-43  Resident  fellow  in  Creative  Writing,  Princeton 

U.S.  Army,  1917-19 

Civilian  technician,  U.S.  Navy,  19^4 

Editor,  U.C.  Division  of  War  Research,  July-Dec 

Chairman,  advisory  committee  of  California  Place-Names 

Project,  19^-^7 
Collaborator,  U.S.  Forest  Service, 



Bret  Harte  1931 

Ordeal  by  Hunger  1936 

John  Phoenix  1937 

East  of  the  Giants  1938 

Doctor's  Oral  1939 

Storm  19*4-1 

Names  on  the  Land  19*4-5 

Man:  An  Autobiography  19*1-6 

Fire  19*1-8 

Earth  Abides  19*1-9 

The  Year  of  the  Oath  (in  collaboration)  1950 

Sheep  Rock  1951 

US  *K>  1953 

American  Ways  of  Life  195*4- 

Years  of  the  City  1955 

NA  1  1957 

Pickett's  Charge  I960 

The  California  Trail  1963 

Committee  of  Vigilance  196*4- 

Good  Lives  1967 

American  Place  Names  1970 

The  Shakespeare  Crisis  1972 


PARTIAL^!  BLIOGRAPHY    (to   1957) 

San  Carlos  Day,    Scribners,    August  1920 

Modern  Metrical  Technique.   1922,    U.S.   Vetrerans  Bureau. 

Method  toward  study  of  dipodic  verse.    Mod.    Lang.    Assn. 

Publications,    v.    39  Dec.    1924 

Iambic-Trochaic  Theory  in  relation  to  musical  notation  of  verse. 

Journal  of  Eng.    and  German  philology,    v.    24,    Jan.    1925 

Literary  Panorama,    Calif,    monthly  v.   18,    March  1925 

Whitman  and  his  own  country,   Sewanee  review,   v.    33 

Apr.    June  1925 

Bret  Harte  on  the  Frontier  Southwest  reniew,   v.   11, 

Aprl  1926 

Meter  of  the  popular  ballad.    Mod.    lang.    ass'n.  ,    v.    40  Dec.    '25 

The  real  Treasure  Island,   University  Chronicle,   v.    28, 

April  1926 

The  meter  of  Piers  Plowman,   Mod.    Lang.   Assn.   v.   42,   Mar.    '27 

A  note  on  the  sleep-walking  scene.  ,   Mod.    Lang.    Notes 

v.   42,  April  1927. 

American  poetry,    In  American  Year  Book,   1927 

What's  in  a  name?  Children,    v.    22-23,   Dec.   1927 

Edited:  Harte,    B.    Luck  of  roaring  camp  and  selected 

stories  and  poems.   Macmillan  1928 

An  Old  Court  House,   Motor  Land,   Nov.   1928 

The  Bret  Harte  legend,    Univ.    of  Calif,    chronical  July  '28 

The  Moral  Chaucer,    Univ.    of  Calif,   publications  in  English, 

Jan.   1929.  .     .. 

The  year  of  Bret  Harte's  birth,   American  Lit,    March  1929 

Technique  of  English  Verse,    Hairy  Holt,   1950. 

Color  in  Science  and  Poetry.    Scientific  Monthly,   Jan.    "30. 

Review:  Coolidge,   D.     Fighting  men  of  the  West,    Univ.    of 

Calif,    chronicle,    Oct.    '32 


Bret  Harte,   Argonaut  and  exile,    Houghton  Mifflin,   1931. 

Francis  Bret  Harte.   Dictionary  of  American  Biog.   1932. 

Edited:  Harte,    F.  B.    Some  Bret  Harte  satires.    Frontier,    Jan  '33. 

Bibliography  of  the  writing  of  Bret. Harte  in  the  magazine  and 

newspapers  of  California  (1857-1871)  Univ.    of  Calif,   publications 

in  English,    Sept.    1933 

Names  of  citizens,     American  Speech,    Feba.    1934 

Edited:  Child's  tale  of  the  Donner  party.    Westways  Dec.    '34. 

Meaning  of  bacheler  in  middle  English.    Philological  quarterly, 

Jan.   1934. 

Popular  names  for  the  mountain  sheep.     American  speech  Dec.    '35 

English  geography  in  Malory's  Morte  d' Arthur,    Modern  Lang. 

Review,   April  1935. 

Edited:  Bret  Harte:  with  comment,    Book  club  of  Calif.  ,    Letters. 

of  Western  authors,    Feb.    1935 

William  Henry  Thomas,   Dictionarty  of  Amer.    Biog.    1935 

Three  and  fifty  upon  poor  old  Jack..  Philoi.   Quart.   July  '35 

Drama  in  a  frontier  theatre.     Parrott  presentation  volume, 

Princeton  Univ.    press,   1935. 

Ordeal  by  Hunger;  the  story  of  the  Donner  party,   Holt,   1936. 
•«  it          M  ii          ii   ii          ii        ii          ii 


or.*  *- 

Dry  drive.    Frontier  and  Midland.   Spring  1936. 

English  composition:  a  laboratory  course,   Holt  1936. 
<~John  Phoenix,    esqu.    the  veritable  Squibob. 
\_A  life  of  Captain  George  H.   Derby,    U.  S.  A.   Holt,   1937 

Mexico  by  ear.  ,    Calif,    monthly  April  1938. 

Take  your  Bible  in  one  hand:  the  life  of  William  Henry  Thomas, 

SF  The  Colt  press,  .1939. 

Review:  The  rivers  of  America,   Sat.    Rev.    of  Lit.   Dec.    30,    '39 

East  of  the  Giants,   Holt,   1938,    London  Harrap  Ltd.   1939. 

Doctor's  oral.    Random  KSCXXe  house,    1939. 

L?.  Bianca  dama  della  California,    translation,   1940. 

Btorm.  New  York,  Random  House,  iy«L 

Bret  Harte  upon  Mark  Twain  in  1866.  American  Lit.  HOT.   '4l 

She  novelists  take  over  poetry.  Sat.  Rev.  of  Lit.  Feb.  8,   «4l. 

What  la  named?  —  towns,  Islands,  mountains,  rivers,  capes. 

Bbiv.  of  Calif.  Pub.  In  English,  v.  Ik  191*3. 

The  source  of  the  name  Oregon.  American  speech,  v.  19,  April  '44. 

Some  amerlcan  place-name  problems.  American  speech,  Dec.    '44. 

The  all-Amerlcan  season.  New  York  Times  mag.  Sept.  24,    '44. 

The  bad  old  summer  time,     "  June  25,   '44. 

Comments  on  Hoere  (n)-kil'.  Amer.  Speech.  Oct.  1944. 

The  drama  of  spring.  New  York  Times  mag.  Mar  26,    '44. 

Names  on  the  land  .   .  a  historical  account  of  place-naming  in 

the  U.S.  New  York,  Bandom  House,  194$. 

Map  of  the  emigrant  road  .   .  by  T.  H.  Jefferson,  with  an  intro 
duction  and  notes  by  Stewart.  San  Francisco,  Calif.  Historicl 

society,  1945. 

Heritage  of  names.  Transatlantic,  no.  26,  Oct.  1945. 

It  pays  to  watch  the  sky,  Nation's  business,  Nov.  1946. 

Caribou  as  a  Place  Name  in  California.  Cal.  Folklore  Quart. 

Oct.  1946. 

One  of  120,000.  Holiday,  1946. 

Time's  Petty  Pace  (fiction).  Esquire,  Nov.  1946. 

Man,  an  autobiography  .  .  .  New  York,  Randan  House,  1946. 

McOinnity's  Rock  (fiction),  Esquire,  Jan.  1947. 

The  West  as  seen  from  the  East.  Pac.  Spectator,  I,  2,  Spring  1947. 

Also  published  as  Chapter  46  in  Literary  History  of  the  United 

States,  ed.  Spiller  Thorp,  Johnson,  and  Canby,  1948. 

Fire  (novel)  New  York,  Random  House,  1948. 

The  Regional  Approach  to  Literature.  College  English.  April  1949. 

Mountains  of  the  West:  South  Central  Panorama.  Ford  Times,  March  '49. 

The  Twilight  of  the  Printed  Book.  Pac.  Spectator,  Winter,  1949. 

Earth  Abides  (novel)  New  York,  Random  House,  1949. 

Man's  Names  in  Plymouth  and  Massachusetts  in  the  Seventeenth  Century. 

U.  C.  Publications  in  English, 

Tntth  crushed  to  Earth  at  Gravelly  Ford,  Nevada.  Pac.  Spectator, 

Winter,  1950. 

The  Biography  of  a  Winter  Storm.  New  York  Times  Mag.,  Feb.  26,  '50. 

A  Proposal  for  Forestry  Demonstration  Areas  along  Highways.  Journal 

of  Forestry,  May  5,  1950. 

The  Year  of  the  Oath  (in  collaboration  with  other  professors  of  the 

Univ.  of  Calif)  New  York,  Doubleday,  1950. 

Sheep  Rock  (novel)  Random  House,  1951. 

Highway  40,  Houghton  Mifflin,  1953. 

The  Opening  of  the  California  Trail,  Berkeley,  University  of 

California  Press,  1953. 

The  Two  Moby-Dicks,  American  Lit.,  January  1954. 

"The  Careful  Young  Men,"  184,  #10,  pp.  208-9.   '56. 

H.A.  1  Two  volumes:  Looking  North,  and  Looking  South,  Boston  1957. 


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Campus  Report 

•HE  WEEKLY  NEWSLETTER  /  University  of  California,  Berkeley 

Volume  1,  Number  31 

/V'goodlife"  has  dedication, 
fulfillment,  growth 

Professor  Stewart 

A  retired  English  professor  with  a  list  of  25  books  to 
his  credit  "probably  wouldn't  have  become  a  novelist  at 
all"  if  the  Berkeley  of  the  1930's  had  been  the  busy,  fer 
menting  place  it  is  today. 

George  R.  Stewart,  who  describes  himself  as  "a  happy 
writer  with  a  passion  for  research,"  is  probably  best 
known  for  his  Storm,  Earth  Abides,  and  Fire.  At  the  age 
of  72,  he  is  "more  productive  than  he's  ever  been,"  at 
work  simultaneously  on  a  history  of  the  English  Depart 
ment,  a  dictionary  of  American  place  names  to  be  pub 
lished  by  Oxford  University  Press,  and  Not  So  Rich  as 
You  Think,  which  will  deal  with  waste  disposal. 

His  newest  book,  scheduled  to  be  published  June  15, 
is  Good  Lives,  a  biographical  study  of  six  men  who,  for 
Stewart,  "satisfied  the  potential  in  themselves." 

William  the  Marshal,  Joab  ben-Zeruiah,  Heinrich 
Schliemann,  Prince  Henry  the  Navigator,  Francisco 
Eduardo  Tresguerras  and  John  Bidwell,  though  they 
lived  during  different  historical  periods  in  different 
societies  under  different  stresses,  were  each  able  to  "make 
a  good  life  in  dangerous,  restricted  times." 

What  is  the  good  life? 

For  Author  Stewart  it  is  fulfillment,  dedication,  intel 
lectual  growth.  His  six  shared,  he  believes,  "a  great  striv 
ing  to  do  something."  They  were  "not  necessarily  happy 
or  pleasant  people,  but  neither  were  they  egotists." 

Continued  on  page  4 

For  the  academics  and  the  Cl non-academic •"  a  miscellany  of  notes 

Judging  from  the  answers  to  a  recent  Campus  Report 
uery,  "non-academic"  is  not  an  objectionable  termi- 
ology  to  Berkeley  employees  in  that  category,  though 

few  commented  that  it  was  a  "somewhat  negative  ap- 
roach."  Remarks  ranged  from  "all  that  matters  is  that 
be  considered  a  part  of  the  University"  to  "I  don't 
are  on  particle  about  my  title  so  long  as  it  doesn't  affect 

y  pay  scale,  vacation,  or  fringe  benefits." 

Others  suggested  operational  staff,  but  "we  don't  mind 
eing  called  non-academic — in  fact  we  feel  it  helps 
lentify  us  as  part  of  the  University  community,"  and 
It's  a  clearly  descriptive  term  when  applied  to  employees 
i  a  university  set-up." 

Berkeley  personnel  interested  in  teacher  education 
dvising  and  other  civilian  professional  positions  in  the 

Vietnam  technical  assistance  program  can  talk  with  re 
cruiters  from  the  State  Department's  Agency  for  Inter 
national  Development  during  the  week  of  June  19-24. 
Interviews  will  be  held  on  the  second  floor  of  the  Old 
Mint  Building  in  San  Francisco  and  can  be  scheduled  by 
calling  556-4300.  Application  forms  also  will  be  available 
at  all  post  offices. 

•  Courtesy  discounts  on  hospital  and  clinic  service 
charges,  and  on  materials  which  have  been  available 
under  limited  circumstances  at  the  UC  San  Francisco 
Medical  Center  will  be  discontinued  as  of  July  1.  Dis 
counts,  said  officials,  in  effect  reduced  the  funds  available 
for  teaching  and  other  services. 

Dental    (San    Francisco)    and    optometric    (Berkeley) 
services,  however,  will  continue  to  be  available. 

In  the  expression  of  the  genetic 
factors,  environment  plays 
an  important  role 

Professor  Stern 

....  research  is  identifying 

some  of  the  reasons  for  congenital  defects 

and  medical  treatment  may  neutralize 

the  damage  either  before  or  after 

it  occurs.  Many  potential  genetic  cripples 

will  become  completely  functional 

What  Genetics'  Curt  Stern  has  called  "the  narrow 
hereditary  bridge"  is  formed  when  a  microscopic  fish-like 
creature  (the  sperm  cell)  collides  with  the  ripe,  waiting 
egg  and  the  evolutionary  past  of  two  organisms  is  joined. 

In  man,  the  newly  fertilized  cell,  if  normal,  contains  46 
threadlike  chromosomes  (23  from  each  parent)  strung 
with  thousands  upon  thousands  of  genes — the  units  of 
inheritance — reproduced  as  the  cell  divides  and  redivides 
until  the  organism  is  complete. 

In  chemical  terms,  the  gene  consists  of  a  substance  called 
DNA  (deoxyribonucleic  acid),  and  it  is  DNA  and  its  mes 
senger,  RNA  (ribonucleic  acid),  which  governs  the  in 
finitely  complex  chemistry  of  the  cell  and  its  activities. 

The  discovery  in  1944  that  DNA  is  the  genetic  substance 
and  the  resulting  development  of  molecular  genetics  re 
search  are  probably  "the  great  contribution  of  our  age," 
says  Dr.  Stern.  But  for  the  man  who  calls  himself  a  "classi 
cal  geneticist,"  an  organism  "is  more  than  just  a  bunch 
of  chemicals.  It  is  a  highly  regulated,  coordinated  organic 
system.  Genes  do  not  act  in  isolation.  They  are  embedded 
in  an  interrelated  harmonious  whole." 

It  is  this  "whole"  with  which  Dr.  Stern  is  most  inti 
mately  concerned. 

The  Berkeley  geneticist,  who  studied  under  Nobelist 
T.  H.  Morgan  and  is  the  author  of  one  of  the  basic  texts 
on  human  genetics,  is  interested  in  two  aspects  of  research: 
human  genetics  (transmission  of  dominant  or  recessive 
traits) ,  and  developmental  genetics.  For  the  latter,  he 
works  with  the  tiny  Drosophila  fruit  fly,  whose  mutation 
rate  and  10-day  reproduction  cycle  enable  investigators  to 
observe  both  natural  and  induced  genetic  change  through 
hundreds  of  generations. 

What  he  learns  from  his  work  with  the  famous  little  fly 
often  gives  him  clues  to  man's  genetic  problems.  "Mosaic" 
flies,  produced  in  his  laboratory,  have  both  male  and 
female  characteristics,  and  "there  are  rare  human  beings 
who  are  human  mosaics,"  he  says,  with  similar  bi-sexual, 

conflicting  characteristics.  Recognition  of  the  very  rea 
problems  of  the  "transsexual"  and  possible  surgical  anc 
psychological  correction  have  recently  been  of  increasing 
interest  to  medical  researchers. 

The  human  mosaic  is  only  one  of  the  potential  genetii 
cripples.  Missing  or  mutated  (changed)  genes,  too  man} 
or  too  few  chromosomes,  and  inbreeding  which  often  in 
creases  recessive  traits  are  among  some  of  the  many  factor: 
which  can  result  in  mental  or  physical  defectives. 

The  15-20%  early  abortion  rate,  says  Dr.  Stern,  mean; 
that  there  "has  already  been  a  culling,"  that  the  "born" 
are  a  selected  sample  of  more  or  less  viable  fetuses. 

The  so-called  "bad"  gene  is  not  necessarily  always  z 
negative  factor,  he  points  out.  Research  is  identifying  some 
of  the  reasons  for  congenital  defects  and  medical  treatment 
may  neutralize  the  damage  either  before  or  after  it  occurs 
Many  potential  genetic  cripples  will  become  complete!) 
functional  and  the  "bad"  gene  will  have  little  or  no  real 
effect  on  the  quality  of  the  human  gene  pool. 

In  addition,  what  may  be  a  "bad"  characteristic  is  one 
situation  may  be  "good"  in  another. 

The  sickle-cell  syndrome,  caused  by  an  amino  acid  sub 
stitution  affecting  the  hemoglobin  molecule,  produce; 
anemia  under  certain  circumstances,  but  in  malaria 
infested  country  the  same  genetic  trait  acts  as  a  protective 
device.  The  syndrome  often  disappears  from  the  genetic 
inheritance  when  its  protective  properties  are  no  longer 

In  the  United  States,  inbreeding  among  humans  has 
almost  ceased  to  be  a  problem  as  community  isolation  dis 
appears.  On  the  other  hand,  large  population  groups 
separated  geographically  for  long  peroids  of  time  have 
evolved  certain  genetic  characteristics  of  their  own. 

But  although  racial  groups  do  have  different  genetic 
endowments,  "which  are  'better'  or  'poorer'  depends  on 
variables  of  conditioning,  opportunity  and  motivation  in 
a  given  situation." 

With  this  issue,  CAMPUS  REPORT 
completes  its  first  year  of  publication.  It  will 
not  appear  during  the  summer  quarter. 
The  editor  has  been  Saxon  Stern — the 
photographer,  Dennis  Galloway. 

To  assist  in  evaluating  CAMPUS  RE 
PORT,  we  ask  that  you  comment  on  the 
following  questions: 

Should  CAMPUS  REPORT  be  con 
tinued  next  fall? 

Did  you  read  CAMPUS  REPORT 
regularly?  Why? 

Please  include  the  name  of  your  depart 
ment  or  office  and  whether  you  are  faculty 
or  non-faculty.  Send  your  comments  to 
Editor,  Campus  Report,  101  Sproul  Hall. 

inside  the  body,  where  there  may  be  counter-balancing 

And  finally,  what  about  the  population  explosion? 

Although  Dr.  Stern  shares  the  general  worry  about  over 
population  and  foresees  a  time  when  "you  can't  have  more 
people,"  he  is  less  concerned  about  its  genetic  effects.  How 
ever,  "people  who  have  very  large  families  today  may  be 
depriving  some  future  families  of  any  children  at  all." 

For  the  present,  "we  must  educate  ourselves  to  accept 
the  many-faceted  inequalities  of  man.  Changes  in  our 
inequalities  are  going  on  incessantly,  often  independent 
of  our  conscious  actions  and  dependent  on  the  social 
system  under  which  we  live. 

"But  culture  and  social  organization  are  not  the  ulti 
mate  forces  which  form  us.  They  themselves  are  made 
possible  by  our  genes." 

Survivors  of  a  nuclear  war  "would 
be  those  with  the  least  damage,  and 
though  they  would  presumably  have 
large  numbers  of  abnormal  children, 
they  would  also  have  some  normal  off 
spring.  Society  and  civilization  will  be 
the  real  casualties.  The  naked  human 
race  would  survive." 

in  a  University  it's  taken  for  granted  you' II  be  productive" 

Continued  from  page  1 

Good  Lives,  he  says,  is  "obviously  an  old  man's  book." 
It  seems  equally  obvious  that  it  is  the  result  of  the  author's 
concern  with  an  evaluation  of  his  own  life  and  its  many 

Has  George  Stewart's  been  a  "good  life?" 

The  professor  who  was  awarded  one  of  UC's  prized 
honorary  degrees  in  1963  doesn't  know  "if  I  fulfilled  my 
potential.  I  might  have  done  more.  Our  hopes  are  always 
more  than  our  achievements." 

Stewart  was  born  in  Pennsylvania  and  came  to  Cali 
fornia  at  the  age  of  12  when  his  father's  health  forced 
a  move  to  a  sunnier,  milder  climate.  The  family  settled 
in  Pasadena,  then  a  comparatively  small  town  of  40,000. 

He  had  "a  good  mother  and  father,"  a  stable  home  life 
as  a  boy.  There  was  a  strong  religious  influence — his 
father  was  an  elder  in  his  church,  two  maternal  uncles 
were  ministers.  Although  he  moved  away  from  formal 
religion  as  he  grew  older,  the  beliefs  of  his  family  en 
dowed  him  with  "strong  values,"  he  says. 

For  a  while,  the  boy  wasn't  sure  what  he  wanted  to  do. 
He  went  east  to  Princeton,  where  he  received  his  A.B.  in 
English  in  1917,  came  back  to  Berkeley  for  his  M.A., 
crossed  the  country  again  to  work  for  his  doctorate  at 
Columbia.  A  year  later  he  joined  the  Berkeley  faculty  as 
an  instructor,  and  became  a  full  professor  in  1942, 
Emeritus  in  1962. 

During  his  teaching  years,  Stewart  taught  creative  writ 
ing  and  a  wide  variety  of  courses,  especially  in  American 

He  credits  his  writing  not  only  to  the  doldrums  of  the 
30's,  but  also  partly  to  Berkeley  historian  H.  L.  Bolton, 
who  made  the  American  West,  its  history  and  literature 
so  exciting  for  a  young  graduate  student  that  nearly  all 
of  his  books  have  been  somehow  related  to  it  in  one  way 

or  another.  His  interest  in  ecological  problems — "why  all 
these  things  got  together,  the  little  parts  making  the 
whole" — is  partially  an  outgrowth  of  his  concern  for 
California's  past  and  future. 

He  wrote  his  first  general  book,  about  the  Donner  Party, 
"because  it  was  such  an  awfully  good  story  and  it  hadn't 
ever  been  presented  properly."  Subsequently,  he  walked 
the  California  emigrant  trail  through  Nevada,  over  the 
Sierra  and  across  the  desert.  From  this  experience  came 
The  California  Trail. 

His  study  is  filled  with  mementos  he  has  picked  up  in 
his  wanderings:  a  patched-together  blue  and  white  pitcher 
he  believes  was  "tossed  out  of  some  wagon  train"  which 
he  found  in  pieces  beside  the  famous  old  trail;  a  4-pound 
single  jack  mining  hammer  discovered  at  the  bottom  of 
the  American  River  Canyon,  "probably  dating  back  to 
1880  or  older." 

The  hammer  is  familiar  to  his  readers.  It  was  used  as 
a  symbol  in  Earth  Abides,  a  book  which  has  turned  out 
to  be  a  very  enduring  work.  "It  keeps  a  remarkable 
vitality."  Storm,  published  as  a  paperback  and  included 
in  the  Modern  Library  series,  is  probably  his  most 
popular  book. 

Although  he  "started  too  late,  so  I'm  not  really  very 
good  at  it,"  he  has  fished  in  New  Zealand,  Australia, 
Japan,  several  countries  in  Europe,  and  only  recently 
returned  from  a  two-months  trip  to  Chile. 

For  the  past  three  years,  in  addition  to  writing  and 
travel,  he  has  been  president  of  the  Berkeley  Faculty  Club 
and  "it  is  the  University  that's  really  been  my  life." 

"It  gives  a  man  freedom  intellectually,  and  opportuni 
ties  to  do  what  you  want.  It's  taken  for  granted  that  you'll 
be  productive.  It's  a  good  place,"  he  says,  "to  try  to  live  the 
'good  life.'  " 

Employee  promotions 

Employees  recently  promoted  include  Herbert  Blech- 
man,  Administrative  Analyst  III  for  the  Campus  Research 
Office;  Paul  Duffey,  Laboratory  Mechanician  at  the  Space 
Sciences  Laboratory;  Rosemary  Fagg,  Principal  Clerk  for 
University  Extension/Continuing  Education  of  the  Bar; 
Vernon  Hawthorne,  Laboratory  Technician  III  in  Zool 
ogy/Fisheries;  Alberta  Marenco,  Senior  Clerk  for  the 
Accounting  Office;  Geraldine  Peabody,  Principal  Clerk  in 
Social  Welfare;  Eloy  Pena,  Senior  Offset  Duplication  Ma 
chine  Operator  for  the  Central  Stenographic  Bureau;  and 

Diane  Quinn,  Principal   Clerk  at   the  Survey  Researcn 

Others  are  Betty  Robinson,  Principal  Clerk  for  Univera 
sity  Extension/Business  Administration;  Patricia  Romeol 
Principal  Clerk  in  the  Graduate  Division;  Ellen  Sclieti 
straete,  Secretary-Stenographer  in  the  Graduate  Division; 
Margaret  Thoene,  Principal  Clerk  for  University  Exten-i 
sion/Program  Processing;  Mary  Lee  Widener,  Administra-i 
live  Assistant  for  Gifts  and  Endowments;  and  Lawrencm 
Young,  Laboratory  Technician  III  at  the  Cancer  Research 
Genetics  Laboratory. 

Campus  Report 

Volume  1,  Number  31 


a    ear  \>\ 

June  1,  1967 

Olfuc  of  ihe  Chancellor 

Editor  •   2137 



academic  freedom,  186 
Alger,  Horatio,  4,  5,  233 
American  Names  Society,  171,  172 
American  Place  Names,   3,  17-19,  40,  43 
American  Ways  of  Life.   78,  193,  195,  201 
Armchair  Strategists,   219 
atomic  bomb,   82,  162,  181,  183 
Author's  Guild,  48,  49 

Backus,  Joseph,   35,  210 

Baker,  Howard,  84 

Bancroft,  H.H. ,  197,  228 

Barzun,  Jacques,  131 

"Beyond  the  River"  63-65 

Bohemian  Club,  173,  174,  218 

Bolton,  Herbert,   20,  228 

Book  Club  of  California,  239 

Book  of  the  Month  Club,   38,  142 

Brandt  &  Brandt,  113,  11^ 

Bret  Harte.  25,  28,  29,  31,  108-110,  115,  229,  236,  262 

Erode,  Robert,  1?4,  254 

Cady,  Howard,  177,  210 

Caldwell,  James,   185 

California  Trail.   6l,  119,  190,  205,  209-211,  214 

Camp,  Charles,   190,  217,  219 

Carpenter,  Kenneth,  191,  192 

Chit-Chat  Club,   218,  219 

Colt  Press,  133,  239 

Columbia  University,  18-21,  23,  52 

Commins,  Saxe,  41,  140-142,  262 

Committee  of  Vigilance.  189,  246 

Coney,  Donald,   228 

Cosmos  Club,   21? 

Cowley,  Malcolm,  93-96,  104 

Cross,  Ira,  230 

Davis,  H.L. ,   86-88 

Department  of  English  of  the  University  of  California  on  the 

Berkeley  CampusT 26,  33,  222,  223 
Deutsch,  Monroe,   135 
Disney,  Walt,  48,  167 

Doctor's  Oral.  44,  45,  50-52,  126-133,  137,  147,  148,  246,  264 
Doubleday  &  Vo. ,   177 


Earth  Abides.  1,  43,  45,  49,  53,  68-71,  81,  82,  126,  143-151, 
154,  165,  179-184,  195,  213,  237,  246,  253,  262 

East  of  the  Giants.  12,  44,  57,  101,  111,  119,  121-126,  129, 
141,  148,  165,  166,  229,  236 

Evans,  Bertram,   232,  233 

Faulkner,  William,   76,  103 

Fire.  1,  9,  10-12,  34,  46,  52,  53,  68,  73,  94,  119,  126, 
^35-147,  158,  159,  161-165,  195,  232,  233,  261 
Fitzgerald,  F.  Scott,  93,  112,  168 
Ford,  Henry,  170 

Forester,  G.S.,   105,  213,  219,  26l 
Friends  of  the  Bancroft  Library,  229 
Frost,  Robert,  89-92 

Gardner,  David  P. ,  188 

Gayley,  Charles  Mills,  20,  31 

"General  Grant",  64-,  65 

Gerbode,  Frank,  150 

Good  Lives.   183,  211,  214-216.  243 

Grabhorn,  Jane  (see  Colt  Press) 

Grether,  Ewald,  230 

Hammond,  George,   229 

Hardy,  Thomas,  232,  234 

Hart,  James  D. ,   34,  165,  227,  228 

Hart,  Walter  Morris,  26,  218,  222,  223 

Haynes,  Duncan  E. ,  214 

Hemingway,  Ernest,   76,  84,  105 

Henty,  G.A. ,  4,  233 

Hildebrand,  Joel  H. ,   25,  29,  30,  67,  218,  222 

Holt,  44,  114,  118,  129,  130 

Houghton  Mlfflin,  29,  184,  195 

Hughes,  Merritt,  51 

"I  Wish  I  Might"  62,  64 
Iliad.  101 

Jackson,  Joseph  Henry,  45,  168,  219 
James,  Henry,  93,  99,  158 
John  Phoenix.  120,  229,  26l 
Johnson,  Paul,   36 

J  V 


edy,  Arthur,   15 
Kennedy,  J.F. ,  inauguration,   90-92 
Knopf,  Alfred,   114,  115,  130,  240 
Krapp,  George  Phillip,   52,  132 

Lehnan,  Ben,   32,  33,  50,  163 
Leopold,  Starker,   1§1 
Loewenburg,  Jacques,   185 
Lott,  Milton,   77 
Lynch,  Jim,   188 

i-ian.   42,  71-73,  77,  78,  100,  156-158,  200,  246,  262 

McGraw  Hill,   209-211 

Mclntosh  &  Otis,  45,  46 

MacLeish,  Archibald,   92,  233,  234 

Marquand,  J.P. ,   218 

Miles,  Josephine,   17,  122 

Modern  Metrical  Technique,   22,  23 

Morse,  V/lllard  P.,   262-264 

N.A.  1,   161,  202,  253 

Names  on  the  Land,   3,  20,  33,  43,  151-154,  241 

Not  So  Rich  As  You  Think,   237-239,  246 

On  the  Beach,  184 

The  Opening  of  the  California  Trail,  197,  229 
T5rd"eal  by  Hunger, 11,  12,  25,  26,  36,  39,  57,  72,  113ffl21, 
137,  144,  184,  210,  211,  229,  234,  246 

PG&E,   135,  180 

Paris  Review  interviews,  83,  93,  102,  104 

Park,  David,   165 

Parrott,  T.M. ,   14,  16 

Perkins,  Maxwell,   41,  110-112 

Pickett's  Charge,   144,  203-208,  214,  246 

Priestley,  Herbert  I.,   228 

Puritan  Ethic,  55,  56,  196,  197,  (also  see  Wasp) 

Random  House,  45,  47,  72,  130,  136,  137,  177,  195,  240 
Reader's  Digest,   72,  73 
Richnond,  Hugh,   128 
Roberts,  Harry,   19,  229 


Sandburg,  Carl,   86-91,  1?0 

Sauer,  Carl,   191 

Schlieinann,  Heinrich,   215,  216 

Seelye,  John,   229,  246 

Shakespeare  Crisis,   213,  224,  225,  247,  248 

Sheep  Rock"; 144,  145,  155,  156,  166,  189-192,  202,  229 

Simpson,  Louis,   85 

Snow,  C.P. ,   212 

Spaeth,  J.  Duncan,   16 

Sproul,  Robert  Gordon,   257,  264 

Stein,  Gertrude,   84 

Steinbeck,  John,   45 

Stewart,  Andrew,   3,  4 

Stewart,  George  Rippey, 

Personal  Life:   family  background,   l-5>  242,  243;  high  school, 
6-8,  106,  107;  at  Princeton,   13-17,  21;  U.C.  study,  6,  19,  23; 
at  Columbia,  18-23,  52;  Ph.D.  thesis,  21-23,  55?  at  University 
of  Michigan,  23,  169,  170;  Army,  5,  6,  18,  23,  28;  in  Berkeley, 
38,  39,  86ff92;  in  Mexico,  87,  92,  126,  129,  13^,  251,  253; 
in  Greece,  193-197;  Navy  work,  159-161,  252;  in  Hollywood,  167; 
health.  6,  23,  214- ,  221,  250,  251;  hobbles,  bookbinding,  8,  19, 
229,  24l,  242,  fishing,  250-252;  clubs,  65,  66,  174,  175,  217- 
220,  243;  teaching,  (see  University  of  California,  Department 
of  English) 

Opinions;   theme  of  ecology,  11,  12,  69,  103,  146,  147,  237- 
239;  theme  of  the  primitive,  49,  50;  first  novels,  236,  237; 
historical  truth,  54,  208,  209,  230,  231;  future  of  books, 
241,  244,  245;  agents,  45-48,  113,  114;  book  reviewing,  40, 
41,  83,  16?,  168;  fans,  41-43,  125,  130;  working  with  publishers, 
71,  110,  240,  241;  education,  54,  55;  on  fiction  vs.  non-fiction, 
12,  118;  self-reliance,  I8ff22;  honor  system  (plagiarism),  259, 
260;  award-granting,  254-258;  Emerson,  Thoreau,  21,  22,  74,  100; 
aging  and  retirement,  28,  56,  221-223;  "slowing  down" 
(motivation),  202,  203,  211-215,  248,  249;  luck  (adversity), 
7,  25,  32,  48,  61,  112,  113,  129,  137,  215-217;  favorite  writers, 
76,  231-234;  oral  history,  208,  209,  227,  229,  230;  regional 
writing,  225-227;  private  publishing,  133,  239-241;  courage, 
76,  183;  racial  greatness,  182,  300;  expatrlatism,  82,  92,  93 

Writing;   stages  of  (Cowley),  94fflOO;  choice  of  style,  151, 
152,  156,  157;  condensations,  72,  73;  habits,  9,  13,  95fflOO, 
104,  105;  talking  about  it,  34,  85,  86;  collaborating,  35, 
36,  64;  the  chapter  and  the  paragraph,  10,  148,  149;  research 
(mapping),  9-11,  19,  28,  52,  108,  138-141,  151,  225-227; 
choice  of  subjects,  11,  12,  68,  162-164;  favorite  passages, 


119,  123,  123,  142-147,  1552-155;  the  mask,  51,  166,  189, 

100,  246,  247;  motive  power,  101,  102;  organization  (plotting), 

70,  117,  121,  123,  126,  137,  153,  158,  247 

Unpublished  Works:  Autobiography,   Iff 8;  date  book,  5,  57, 
58,  100,  194,  214;  names  book,  28,  60;  plays,  61-66;  ideas, 
60,  66,  67,  79-81,  227;  satires,  79,  80; (see  Shakespeare 

Stewart,  Jack,   l6l,  164,  231 

Stewart,  Theodosia  Burton,  1,  4,  38,  39,  57,  64,  135,  151, 

169-171,  251,  253 

3tewartfs  Law  of  Honors  and  Prizes,   257,  258 
Storm,  1,  10-12,  3^,  38ff53,  94,  126,  129,  134ffl47,  151,  154, 

158,  161,  165,  195,  212,  232,  234,  260-262 
Strong,  Edward,   65,  66 

Take  Your  Bible  in  Your  Hand.  133 

Tatlock,  Jack, 29,  30,  51 

Techniques  of  English  Verse,   23 

Thome s,  William  Henry,   133 

Thorndyke,  Ashley  Horace,   21 

To  California  by  Covered  Wagon,   197 

Tolman,  Kathleen, 126 

Trask,  Parker,  159,  161,  191,  252 

Truman,  Harry,   54,  209 

U.S.  40,   28,  193-195,  202 

University  of  California,  G.R.S.  study  at,  6,  19,  20,  23; 
Department  of  English,  25-34;  students,  74-77,  84;  Drama 
Section  Club,  65,  66;  literary  life,  85,  124-126;  zoology 
department,  87,  88;  clubs,  173-175,  217-220;  loyalty  oath, 
175,  184-189;  Centennial  Honors  Committee,  254-258;  Berkeley 
Fellows,  255,  256,  258;  The  Bancroft  Library,  228-230; 
Regional  Oral  History  Office,  227-230 

University  of  Nevada,   187,  188 

Utter,  Robert  P. ,   163,  164 

Van  Doren,  Carl,   21 

W.P.A.  project  on  Western  writing,   36-38 

Wasp,   196,  197 

Wells,  Chauncey,   189 

'"//here  is  Mr.  Winkleton?",   64,  65 

Whipple,  T.K.,   84 


Wilder,  Thornton,  106,  139 
Williams,  Annie  Laurie,  45,  46,  48 
Wilson,  Edmund,  93 
Wilson,  Garff,  254 

Year  of  the  Qat.hT  176,  177,  184-189,  194 

Years  of  the  CJtyT  49,  53,  148,  158,  195ff202,  213,  214 

Suzanne  Bassett  Riess 

Grew  up  in  Bucks  County,  Pennsylvania.   Graduated 
from  Goucher  College  with  a  B.A.  in  English  in 
1957.   Post-graduate  work  at  the  University  of 
London  and  the  University  of  California,  Berkeley, 
in  English  and  art  history. 

Feature  writing  and  assistant  woman's  page  editor, 
Bethlehem,  Pa. ,  Globe -Times.   Free-lance  writing 
and  editing  in  Berkeley  and  volunteer  work  on 
starting  a  new  Berkeley  newspaper. 

Editor  in  Regional  Oral  History  Office  since  1960, 
interviewing  in  the  fields  of  art,  cultural  history, 
environmental  design,  photography,  and  University 

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